Watch This Majestic Osprey Catch a Huge Deadly Fish with Its Powerful Talons

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Updated: August 30, 2023
© BlueBarronPhoto/
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Key Points

  • Ospreys are excellent hunters and their diet is mostly fish.
  • They construct large, bulky stick nests that they continue to use year after year.
  • This is where they take their prey to eat and share (if needed). They aren’t too picky with their catch but seldom grab very large prey, so that’s why this video is so remarkable!

Thanks to someone filming at the right place at the right time, we get to witness something spectacular. A video shows an Osprey coming out from under the surface of choppy water in slow motion. 

Once the beautiful bird is fully visible, there’s a barracuda hanging from its talons. A comment on the video reads, Oh my goodness! That sight was truly magnificent and left me in awe!” We couldn’t agree more! 

With over 16,000 likes on the video, people from all over the world are seeing just how incredible these birds are. Ospreys, also referred to as fish hawks, are raptors that are well-suited for hunting. 

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The animals have long legs and big, unique barbs on the pads of their feet, hooked talons, and an outer toe that can be turned around. With two toes facing forward and two toes pointing backward, they may readily grasp fish at any moment.

Osprey Hunting Techniques

An osprey flies off with a kokanee salmon
Osprey isn’t picky when it comes to what fish they eat.

©Gregory Johnston/

Nearly 100% of what they eat is fish. Ospreys are excellent hunters, bringing in fish on at least 25% of their flights.  In order to find fish below the water’s surface, these birds circle over areas of shallow water.  

They grab any fish that happen to be cruising within a few feet of the water’s surface, however, they are opportunistic regarding the species of fish they take. Seldom do they take fish longer than 16 inches. Other birds, reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals are all sometimes caught by ospreys.

When they find a fish, they linger for a moment before diving feet-first into the water, occasionally submerging entirely. An osprey turns a fish it has caught by positioning its feet so the fish is facing head-first. 

Because of the decreased aerodynamic drag, the fish is less complicated for the osprey to transport while it flies to its nest or nearby perch to consume it.

Where Do Ospreys Live?

Two ospreys in the Tennessee Wildlife Refuge
Nesting ospreys create a huge stick nest at the Cross Creeks national wildlife refuge.

©Wirestock Creators/

This hawk constructs a large, bulky stick nest similar to the Bald Eagle, which may be reused and improved upon year after year. The male chooses a location, and the male and female then gather sticks and other building supplies to construct the nest. 

Nests may also be constructed on structures specifically made for them, however, they are frequently built on poles, channel signs, and dead trees. These birds are used to interacting with humans quickly and frequently build their nests close to ports, marinas, and busy roads.

Osprey numbers in North America migrate, flying great distances to spend the colder months in southern South America. Ospreys spend the entire year in Florida, the Gulf Coast, and the Caribbean since they don’t need to migrate due to a consistent year-round food supply.

Check Out the Video!

How Large are Ospreys?

Ospreys are impressive birds of prey, with a majestic wingspan averaging from 5 to 6 feet. Their weights can range from 2 to 4.5 pounds, while their heights vary from 21 to 33 inches. 

For reference, bald eagles and golden eagles are larger than ospreys. The wingspan of either eagle species can stretch 7.5 feet, with the golden eagle going a couple of inches more. And these massive birds can weigh from 6-14 and 7-15 pounds, respectively.

On the other hand, an example of a smaller raptor than the osprey is the American Kestrel, with a height of 8-12 inches, a weight of 2.8 to 5.8 ounces, and a wingspan of 20-24 inches.

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About the Author

When she's not busy playing with her several guinea pigs or her cat Finlay Kirstin is writing articles to help other pet owners. She's also a REALTOR® in the Twin Cities and is passionate about social justice. There's nothing that beats a rainy day with a warm cup of tea and Frank Sinatra on vinyl for this millennial.

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