Migratory Birds of the Great Lakes University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
 about habitat birds + science 20 birds
aerialist raptors
copyright UW Sea Grant, writer: L. Wiland, design: T. Yao contact us credits

Osprey — Water Connection

The osprey is a fish-eating specialist, with live fish accounting for about 99 percent of its diet. As a result, this bird of prey relies on some special behaviors and adaptations for fishing.

An osprey may hunt by skimming over water and snatching fish, or it may employ a more dramatic technique: The bird soars from 60-150 feet above water, and is able to hover in place, with tail spread and wings fanning like a huge butterfly. Upon spotting a fish, the osprey will plunge downward headfirst, then at the last second, will throw out its talons to enter the water feet-first. It often completely submerges and can take a fish up to three feet underwater. However, ospreys canít swim and have been known to drown, especially if they get their talons stuck in too large a fish and canít take off again.     next page >>