An Osprey Takes the Plunge

By David Deen for The Outside Story
Illustration by Adelaide Tyrol

Flyfishing from a canoe in a small headwater pond at the tippity-top of the Connecticut River is usually a quiet experience. That’s why the sudden splash caused me to turn my head just in time to see an osprey struggling up out of the water and into the air.

My first thought was that the bird had misjudged its attempt at a fish, splashing down instead of plucking the fish out of the water. The bird quickly flew up about 25 feet above the water and began to half fly, half hover in a circle. Before long it made a second, wings folded, headlong dive for the water. But instead of expanding its wings and grasping acrobatically with its talons for the fish, the bird went headfirst into the water.

If you are as ignorant as I was about the osprey’s fishing technique, you might think this particular bird had a technique problem. I imagined it must have given itself a throbbing headache from smacking into the water at full speed diving for a fish. All for nothing.
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The VINS Nature Blog will run excerpts from current articles in Northern Woodlands’ “The Outside Story” periodically to enhance our nature offerings to our readers.

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