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Osprey struggling to get off the water

This is beautiful slow-motion footage from the BBC of an osprey trying to lift off with a heavy fish.  Unfortunately, the narration repeats an old myth that an osprey’s talons lock and can’t be released and therefore a strong and heavy fish can pull an osprey underwater and drown it.

Osprey can definitely release fish in the water or in air after grasping it. They sometimes simply lose their grip on a struggling fish as they fly. Eagles often wait for an osprey to catch a fish and then try to steal it. When that happens, the osprey sometimes decides to drop the fish and let the eagle have it, rather than engage in a mid-air battle with a much bigger eagle. Osprey also sometimes drop fish into their nest before landing. So they aren’t getting irreversibly locked onto fish as a general rule. What makes sense is that if an osprey buries a talon or two too deeply, it might get stuck in the flesh of the fish and be hard to remove, almost like a fish hook. And if the fish is big enough to pull the bird underwater, osprey aren’t built for swimming, so it might very well drown before it can get free.

So I’m not disputing that an osprey can be pulled underwater or drown. But ignore that myth about irreversibly locking talons, and just enjoy the beauty of the osprey’s wings.  Amazing!

HIghlands – Scotland’s Wild Heart: Osprey slow-motion footageThis osprey’s having a bit of bother with its fish supper…

Ewan McGregor narrates this dramatic super slow-motion footage in a wee sneak peek at #Highlands

Posted by BBC Scotland on Monday, May 9, 2016

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One Response

  1. Lisa Says:

    That is beautiful footage. And at one point the osprey has only one foot holding the fish, so the myth (that they can’t release) is broken right there!

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