Osprey Fishing For Kokanee Salmon

The Osprey is a large raptor (weighing approximately 4 lbs) that feeds exclusively on fish. It is the only bird of prey that feeds exclusively on live fish. They fish by flying over water and diving into the water feet-first to grasp their prey. The outer toe of the Osprey is reversible so that it can grasp with three toes forward and one backward or with two forward and two backward, which provides a more stable grip in flight.

The Kokanee Salmon is a population of Sockeye Salmon that do not migrate to the ocean, but live their entire lives in landlocked freshwater lakes.  These Salmon are semelparous,  dying after they spawn. During the spawn they are bright red in color.  The Kokanee is smaller that the ocean Sockeye and weighs in at about 5 lbs. 

  As many as five Osprey circle at one time above over the shallow end of the lake, watching, waiting. Below, just beneath the surface, red Kokanee Salmon browse, seemingly unaware of the watchers above.

Suddenly, with a quick folding of its wings, an Osprey dives and strikes the water, but comes up empty. This juvenile Osprey still has a lot to learn about fishing for Kokanee.

Sometime later, with most of the juveniles perched in he surrounding trees, an Adult Osprey strikes and disappears below the surface of then lake. You can tell that the Osprey has hooked a Kokanee because for several seconds the Osprey just remains motionless with spread wings, slowly floating to the surface.

Once the Osprey has managed to clear its wings from the water it may take a few attempts to bring the Kokanee out. As the Osprey rapidly beats its wings the Kokanee may find itself being dipped in and out of the water, providing the Kokanee with a false hope for escape.

However, when the long curved talons of the Osprey have hooked its prey, escape is unlikely.

Now airborne, the Osprey circles, slowly gaining altitude, until it can carry its heavy burden into the tree tops. There the Kokanee may be eaten in solitude.