Osprey Practice?

I saw an osprey do the strangest thing the other day.  I was driving from the log yard to the pole yard and I saw one of the osprey go into an aggressive dive.  Located between the two yards is a canal.  I naturally assumed that the osprey was going after a fish in the canal.  I drove closer and pulled over to get some shots of the action.

osprey, nature, wildlife, photography

Osprey wheeling around

It was an excellent chance to shoot the osprey.  Lately they have been sitting on the eggs and hanging out at the tower.  Not a lot of opportunity to get any interesting pictures.

Osprey, nature, wildlife, photography

The osprey on approach.

As I started taking pictures, the osprey wheeled around to come in for another swoop.  With his sights set on target he banked for the dive.

Osprey, nature, wildlife, photography

Gettin’ his dive on!

Then, the osprey did something unexpected!  Instead of diving into the canal the osprey dove into an open area.  It was fast and low, beautiful to watch.  Osprey are fish eaters and to my knowledge they don’t catch rodents.  So what was he doing?

Osprey, nature, wildlife, photography

Coming in low and fast, but for what!

Osprey, nature, wildlife, photography

Up close and personal!

Then, he did the osprey snatch.  The osprey grabbed a stringy piece of cedar bark.  Bark, why bark?  He flew about ten feet and dropped the bark.  It all seemed quite purposeful.

Osprey, nature, wildlife, photography

The snatch and fly!  The osprey with the bark in his talons.

Then the osprey circle back around and headed out.

Osprey, wildlife, nature, photography

Coming around again.

He did manage to give me a dirty look as he did his fly by.

osprey, nature, wildlife, photography

Gettin’ the stink eye. I suppose that’s better than the other end.

I’m left with the question, what was the osprey doing?  Was he looking for material for the nest?  I don’t think so, because they haven’t worked on the nest for weeks and the eggs have been laid.  Did he think the bark was an animal?  I doubt it and I think they only eat fish.  Was he practicing or playing?  Maybe, why wouldn’t a well fed osprey engage in a little fun.

Do any of you good folks have any ideas as to what the osprey was doing?  I would love to hear your theory.

30 thoughts on “Osprey Practice?

  1. No idea, but here you see crows doing strange things as well. They adjust to the circumstances.
    I’ve seen them throw a nut on the road and wait for a car to drive over it and crack it for them! 🙂


  2. you are talking about my nest
    and tookd a lot of shoots
    this week on my last
    when i think, to finished my mess
    Did you ask if i am out of season
    unseasoned Osprey
    So i Tell you neighbor
    There is my house
    and i am just doing my best


  3. I have no clue what the Osprey was doing, but you took some amazing pictures while the Osprey was doing it! Of course, since I’m curious by nature I’d really like to know what the Osprey was doing! lol


    • It was pure luck. I was at the right place at the right time and the osprey stayed around long enough to photograph it. Today I saw a very large white bird soaring very high up, but by the time I could get my camera out it was gone. I didn’t recognize it, so I really wanted to get a good picture. So not all my experiences make it to a picture, but I do try to be ready at a moment’s notice.


  4. Intriguing story and great shots to illustrate it. We have ospreys in the UK too, IN Scotland and Northern England, around 300 pairs. Many breeding pairs are fairly well studied, being protected by constant volunteer guarding and observation, including on webcams. From what I have read Ospreys do sometimes take the odd rodent or rabbit, so perhaps the one you saw thought he was swooping on a snack and dropped it when he realised it wasn’t edible?


    • Perhaps you are on to something. I’ve never seen these osprey take anything other than fish. I always think of these birds having such sharp eyesight, but maybe this one doesn’t.


      • I think they do have keen eyes, but perhaps the inexperience of land creatures as opposed to fish in water may have led him to make a mistake – just a thought. Your suggestion of just having fun has as much chance of being right. We have much to learn about these birds.


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