This Is Why The Osprey Might Be the World’s Best Fisherman

by Owen James Burke


Perhaps it was sheer luck, but that’s beside the point. Photo: Kristofer Rowe.

Along the western Atlantic seaboard, a massive migration of menhaden (also known as “bunker” or “moss bunker”) begins in late summer. This means foraging time for the North American osprey (P. h. carolinensis), among other species.

Every summer and fall I would watch these birds, one after another, calculate and execute flawless raids on these hopeless fish. Indeed, ospreys are among the most adept hunters of the sea I’ve ever known, but never have I seen one plant its talons in two fish at once.


A diving osprey can reach speeds of 80 miles an hour. Photo: Kristofer Rowe.


Photo: Kristofer Rowe.

I’ll never forget the time I was fishing aboard Blues Dory in a backwater marsh for hours without a bite. Along came an osprey. All of a sudden, not twenty yards off my bow she plunged headfirst into the shallow mudflats, emerging with a striped bass of about 2 or 3 pounds–the very creature I’d been trying to tempt all day. Concluding that it wasn’t my day, I packed up my gear and headed for the dock.

View more of Kristofer Rowe’s photography, and follow him here. -OJB


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