Osprey

Sighted:  July 11, 2014
Location: Ash Island, Willamette River, Newberg, Oregon

07-11-14_Osprey_2

Osprey are frequently seen cruising over lakes, rivers, and coastal waterways in search of fish.
In flight, the wings are held with a kink in the wrist that creates a distinctive “M-like” shape when seen from below.
07-11-14_Osprey_1
 
If I were a person who liked to fish, I would regard seeing an Osprey nearby as a good sign. The Osprey is the only North American hawk to feed almost exclusively on live fish.
 
Osprey are only able to dive less than three feet below the water’s surface to catch fish. As such, they prefer shallow fishing grounds where they capture fish (usually measuring 6-13 inches in length) by diving feet first to grab a fish. The toes on this species are unusual- all are the same length, with a reversible outer toe that allows this hawk to grasp with two toes in the front and two behind. Barbed pads on the soles of the feet help the bird to grip slippery fish. How’s this for great aero-dynamics? When flying  with its prey, the Osprey lines up its catch head first for reduced wind resistance.

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