Diving down — practically crashing — a young osprey hits the water, aiming for and grabbing a trout. But that’s just the first part of this hunt. Watch as the osprey tries to take off out of the water with the massive trout twisting within its talons, filmed in this BBC Scotland footage at 800 frames a second. Narrated by Ewan McGregor, the clip is from Highlands – Scotland’s Wild Heart.
Fish make up 99% of the osprey’s diet. It typically takes fish weighing 150–300 g (5.3–10.6 oz) and about 25–35 cm (9.8–13.8 in) in length, but the weight can range from 50 g (1.8 oz) to 2 kg (4.4 lb). Virtually any type of fish in that size range are taken.
Ospreys have vision that is well adapted to detecting underwater objects from the air. Prey is first sighted when the osprey is 10–40 m (33–131 ft) above the water, after which the bird hovers momentarily then plunges feet first into the water… The osprey has several adaptations that suit its piscivorous lifestyle:
- reversible outer toes
- sharp spicules on the underside of the toes
- closable nostrils to keep out water during dives and backwards-facing scales on the talons which act as barbs to help hold its catch
- dense plumage which is oily and prevents its feathers from getting waterlogged