Connecting you with nature
The Osprey’s scientific name, Pandion haliaetus, comes from a mythical king of Athens, Pandion, whose daughters were turned into birds, and the Greek words halos (sea) and aetos (eagle).
Ospreys have provided me with some of my most memorable wildlife photography experiences and wildlife encounters. I’m always stunned by these birds not just because of how they look but how they’ve adapted to living fairly close to humans with all of our human noises, human gazing, and humans regularly closing in on them to get closer looks. In a recent social media post, I refer to Ospreys as having the equivalent of a PhD in survival.
Osprey hunting skills literally astound me – they can see fish underwater when they’re flying at heights up to 130 feet above the surface of the water. Not only can they see with that level of precision, they dive at tremendous speeds into the water sometimes submerging their entire bodies to catch fish in their talons. And if that wasn’t enough, once they catch a fish, they use the physical strength of their wings to get out of, or off of the water and fly off with their catch. If you’ve been underwater, you know water is heavy – yet Ospreys make it look like a breeze to surface out of the water.
Once they’ve caught a fish then they fly sometimes considerable distances with an extra half pound (rough average) of fish in tow. That might not sound like a lot of weight, but when you consider that adult Osprey usually weigh no more than 4 pounds, even a half pound of fish would be 12% of a 4-pound Osprey’s body weight. How would you do carrying 12% of your body weight (let’s say you weigh 170 lbs. – 12% is 20 lbs.) a few times a day, usually every day, for miles in all kinds of weather? The Cornell Lab bird authority says: “Ospreys are excellent anglers. Over several studies, Ospreys caught fish on at least 1 in every 4 dives, with success rates sometimes as high as 70 percent. The average time they spent hunting before making a catch was about 12 minutes—something to think about next time you throw your line in the water.” Watching, photographing, and when necessary, rescuing Ospreys never gets old.
Ospreys’ tendency to be fairly comfortable around humans and our built-up environment means that it’s not so unusual to see Ospreys in the news. See the “Sources and Information” links at the bottom of this post for some of the headlines Ospreys have created for many journalists.
There are now several live-streaming Osprey nest cams from around the US that provide important and moving insights into Osprey behavior. Knowing their behavior, lifestyle, and desired habitat has allowed many photographers, me included, to capture incredible photos of this majestic and fierce raptor. Following are a few of my greatest Osprey photographs to date. I expect there will be more to come! Click on any photo to purchase or contact me to discuss buying a print.
Sources and Information: