Osprey ... being in the right place on a boat at the perfect moment
The osprey, or more precisely the western osprey (Pandion haliaetus), is a diurnal, fish-eating bird of prey. It is a large raptor with a wingspan of more than 60 cm (24 in) and a length of more than 180 cm (71 in). The upper parts are brown, while the head and underparts are primarily greyish. Although the sexes seem identical, the mature male may be identified from the female by its thinner body and narrower wings. The osprey has arching wings and drooping "hands" in flight, giving it a gull-like appearance.
They tolerate a wide variety of habitats, nesting in any location near a body of water providing an adequate food supply. The osprey is a fish-eating bird, with fish accounting for 99 percent of its diet. It usually takes fish weighing 150–300 g and measuring 10–14 inches in length. Ospreys' eyesight is highly equipped to identify aquatic things from the air. The osprey initially sees prey when it is 10–40 m (33–131 ft) above the water, after which the bird pauses briefly before diving feet first into the water. They capture fish by diving into a body of water and immersing their entire bodies.
When an osprey descends, the angle of its flight is adjusted to accommodate for the distortion of the fish's vision produced by refraction. Ospreys usually feed on local perch, although they have been seen to carry fish for larger distances. The osprey has reversible outer toes and sharp spicules on the underside of the toes to accommodate its piscivorous habit. They also possess closeable nostrils to keep water out during dives, as well as backward-facing scales on the talons that function as barbs to assist retain their catch. They also have rich, oily plumage that keeps their feathers from becoming wet.
Photograph by Karen Brodie
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