What Do Ospreys Eat?

Ospreys eat fish almost exclusively, with fish accounting for approximately 99 percent of their diet. Ospreys feed on fish that range in size from 10.6 ounces to 4.4 pounds. They’re not picky fish eaters, and they feed on virtually any type of fish that isn’t too small or too large.

Besides fish, ospreys are also known to feed on other birds, small reptiles, amphibians, rabbits, hares and various rodents on occasion. Because of their specific diet, ospreys are most often found in areas near bodies of water, such as lakes, ponds, rivers or coastal waterways.

Ospreys hunt by hovering over the water and then quickly snatching fish by plunging into the water feet first. Because of their keen eyesight, ospreys can spot underwater prey as far away as 131 feet above the water’s surface.

Ospreys have evolved and adapted to become highly efficient hunters of fish. Their nostrils have the ability to stay sealed while they dive underwater, and their talons have barbs that effectively keep their prey from escaping their grasp. This is especially important when the bird is carrying a fish for a long distance. Their outer toes can reverse, and needle-like protrusions are used to capture and kill fish. To minimize wind resistance, ospreys face their fish forwards while flying.