Ospreys are the only raptors that dive fully into the water to catch their prey. Try to imagine the physical sensation…
To skim across the sky, above the ocean, peering down with eyes that can see into the shallows from forty, sixty, even a hundred feet up. To catch a glint or the shadow of a movement and know it to be a fish, the one thing that keeps you alive. to hover, adjust, beating your wings so that you stay in place, like a giant kingfisher or hummingbird. then to dive, to commit, to tuck with folded wings and plunge downward at over forty miles an hour while still keeping your eyes on the prey, calculating its size and movement. to adjust in midair, redirecting, considering even the refraction of the fish's image in the water, before pulling in your wings and diving. And then, at the last second before hitting the water, to throw your wings back and your talons forward, striking feet first. to plunge in, splash, immerse, and make contact at the same time, trapping, piercing, clutching a slippery, scaled, cold blooded creature..
The birds have a remarkable success rate, some catching well over fifty percent of what they dive for, and this is due in good part to the pre-dive patience, the search for the right target. This careful adjustment will often carry over into the dive itself. after the bird has tucked its wings and dropped down thirty feet, it may pause and readjust, and it may repeat this a time or two again, as if descending imaginary stairs.
But while the pre-dive ritual demands control and calculation, the plunge itself is about the opposite of control. It is a moment of full commitment, of abandon, and, finally, of immersion..
Return of the Osprey