Dive Right In – The Osprey


Osprey © Jungle Pete Corradino

Dive Right In – The Osprey by Jungle Pete Corradino

What happens after we die has to be the most common question humans ask as a species. Which animal they’d like to be if they get reincarnated is a close second. Am I right? I think I’d prefer to be a flying fox, soaring the tropics in search of fruit. As long as I could avoid the natives who eat them in a bowl of milk. Or maybe a dolphin would be nice. You never see “dolphin heads sold here” signs and they spend their days eating, mating and resting half of their brain.

I certainly don’t want to be a fish. Venomous, spiny, speared; humans and animals will find a way to eat every species of fish no matter how large or small or well protected.

Every time I see an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) plunging in the water I think of the fish that has no chance. Ospreys are the only raptors that dive into the water and can do so from heights of up to 100 feet. They plunge feet and head first and mercilessly pluck their prey from their aquatic habitat with long, sharp talons and specialized spicules. These spiny toe pads are used to grip the slippery fish as they lift them from the water and carry it head first to a perch where they either eat them whole or rip them apart and devour them.


Osprey © Jungle Pete Corradino

The name Osprey comes from the Latin ossifragius meaning “bone breaker”. This is a misnomer considering the Ospreys, although ruthless and efficient hunters don’t break bones but rather rend their prey bit by bit. The species name “haliaetus” means “seahawk” and was named as such by the Swedish Taxonomist Carl Linnaeus. It was later recognized as the sole member of the family Pandionidae.

As proficient as the Osprey is at hunting, on rare occasions the bird will attempt to reel in something a bit bigger than they have the capacity for. Fishermen have reported finding clenched talons in captured fish. Apparently not all fish go down without a fight and some take the Osprey with them. I may need to rethink my consideration of reincarnation as an Osprey or just keep in mind that sometimes bigger isn’t better.

Pete Corradino (Southeast)

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