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The sequence of photos in this plate from The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors brilliantly illustrates how Ospreys hunt.
They hover and soar over lakes and waterways in search of fish below the water’s surface. When they spot a fish close to the surface, they dive feet-first into the water, partially submerging to grab the fish with their sharply curved talons. After catching their prey, Ospreys use a great deal of force to propel themselves from the water. As soon as they take flight, they “shake off” any water so they are able to fly more easily with their weighty prey, which they hold aerodynamically head-first. Ospreys are uniquely adapted with acutely curved talons and rough spines, called spicules, on the bottom of their feet that help them to easily hang onto their slippery prey.