The act of an Osprey hunting is one of the most impressive feats in nature. In coastal Florida, it’s hard not to notice Osprey perched on large stick nests, flying overhead, or tearing apart a fresh-caught fish. But seeing one actually plunge into water takes a bit of luck, and seeing one pull out a fish takes even more. One morning at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, Florida, I finally photographed this act for the first time.
It was a windy morning, and one hungry Osprey was using this wind to hover thirty feet above the water while it searched for fish below.
With a slight tuck of the wings, he plunged downward and into the water with a great splash. Before seeing an Osprey dive, I wondered how such a large bird could pull its wet body (and sometimes a huge fish) out of the water without a running start like most waterbirds need. After seeing it happen, I still have no idea. It’s really quite impressive. Regardless, the Osprey hovered, dove, and emerged two more times without catching a fish. On the third try he managed to grab the fish but was forced to let it go to keep from being pulled under. Finally, success came on the fourth try.
With another great splash and several awkward moments of half an Osprey sticking out of water, the Osprey pulled out a beautiful Crevalle Jack (Caranx hippos). Victorious and probably tired, the Osprey flew away with a breakfast to shred, and I walked on with a story to tell.