Watch as Ospreys Demonstrate Their Hunting Skills

Candice Gaukel Andrews June 13, 2013 22

An osprey is a very large, distinctively shaped hawk. Its head is white with a broad, brown stripe through the eye. Despite its size, it has a slender body.

Ospreys are unique among North American raptors for their diet of live fish and their diving expertise. Now a common sight circling over shorelines, patrolling waterways or standing on their huge, stick nests built in the forks of trees, on rocky outcrops or on artificial platforms, ospreys have rebounded since the United States banned the pesticide DDT in 1973.

Ospreys search for fish by soaring high over shallow water.  An osprey in hunting mode is a model of concentration, plunging into the water with feet outstretched and yellow eyes sighting straight along its talons. Often, you can clearly see an osprey’s catch held fast in its grip as the raptor carries it back to a nest or perch.

Watch the three sequences taken of a hunting osprey below. In the first, an osprey gathers five to six fish during a single sweep. In the second, one of the birds grabs a flounder that was submerged in at least three feet of water; and in the third, an osprey makes off with what some say looks like a five-pound steelhead—grasped and carried for a time in only one talon!

Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,


See ospreys and other large birds of prey in the wild on one of our Yellowstone National Park adventure trips.


  1. Jill Mortimer June 23, 2013 at 7:15 am - Reply

    Have watched this so many times, and each time I am THRILLED.
    To watch his wings…… amazing….. and the strength in the last one.

  2. Jim Bodkin June 19, 2013 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Wonderful video of a great subject. I like the simultaneous multiple angle shots!!

  3. Mark Miller June 19, 2013 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Fantastic footage – we got a live show this weekend at Northern New Mexico’s Morphy Lake state park – which is a small 30 acre lake at 8000 feet surrounded by native Ponderosa pines – with the small lake you got to observe the Osprey’s entire hunt and 5 successive trys before getting her Lake Trout to take home…what a bird!

  4. Deanna Beacham June 19, 2013 at 3:38 am - Reply

    For everyone to whom this seems to be “rare video” or even at all unusual, I urge you to visit the Chesapeake Bay and its tributary rivers (such as the James, Potomac, or Susquehanna) or the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We have osprey in abundance here, and observing their fishing is so common that it’s not an extraordinary event.

  5. Emily Mabee June 18, 2013 at 10:37 am - Reply

    Just great! I love watching these powerful birds. No wonder they are called Fish Hawks!

  6. Ben Whalen June 18, 2013 at 4:26 am - Reply

    Seen this one before but what a great video. Wonder how long the sat with the underwater cameras to catch the dive from that angle 🙂

  7. Agustín González Zaragoza June 17, 2013 at 4:23 pm - Reply

    Great, superb!: I have had the opportunity to see them twice in México. Long ago, when I worked as a director for a fish/prwns aquaculture company nearby Manzanillo, Colima, where they used to spend the winter season catching on “Tilapia” at the farm, and then in “Punta Mita” Nayarit, where they used to prey on low tides around the península.

    They were great to watch!

  8. Mauverneen Blevins June 17, 2013 at 5:32 am - Reply

    Amazing to watch.

  9. Elizabeth Schuh-Vance June 16, 2013 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    awesome video.

  10. Michele Korpos June 16, 2013 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    What remarkable agility and strength, and what remarkable photography! Thanks for sharing, Candice.

  11. Karen Collander June 16, 2013 at 11:07 am - Reply

    Yes, this was an amazing video. Thanks for sharing!!!!

  12. Louise Kane June 15, 2013 at 8:31 am - Reply

    just amazing

  13. Mark Hall June 15, 2013 at 8:30 am - Reply

    I once watched ospreys fishing at the mouth of small stream that had migrating fish (kokanee) in it. The birds would sit lined up in the tree canopy upstream like a line up at a concession stand. The ospreys would go to the fishing spot at the stream mouth in an organized fashion – taking turns one at a time. Each time they caught a fish they did some fancy foot work where they actually let go and re-grab the fish in mid-air so the fishes head was facing forward and its tail facing backwards. I assumed this makes it easier to carry a flopping fish.

  14. Larry Ehemann June 14, 2013 at 12:00 pm - Reply

    Great video!!

  15. Kathy Thompson June 14, 2013 at 11:13 am - Reply


    I must of watched it 5 times before showing my co workers. Is the last fish trout or bass?

  16. Paul Bauke June 14, 2013 at 6:05 am - Reply

    WOW! Amazing video. Thanks for posting it.

  17. Gary Nickerson June 14, 2013 at 6:05 am - Reply


  18. Neil Cosentino June 14, 2013 at 6:04 am - Reply

    An Awesome Hunter … thanks

  19. Diana Lillig June 14, 2013 at 6:02 am - Reply

    Amazing, also, to see the Osprey shake off the water like a wet dog while flying!

  20. White pine June 13, 2013 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    The video is really special. We’ve watched it several times–so much to see. What a magnificent bird. Long may he fly. Thanks for sharing this.

  21. John LaPolla June 13, 2013 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    great film

  22. Robert Currie June 13, 2013 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    Great video!

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