The Flying Fishermen: Osprey of Florida


Osprey, Matlacha, Photo: Kelly Dean

The Flying Fishermen: Osprey of Florida

By Kelly Dean

A couple is sitting near me at lunch recently and they both begin squealing in delight over seeing something unusual. Seems they are looking just past me out at the bay and witnessing an osprey swoop down from the sky and catch a fish in the water — in one graceful swoop.

This was indeed a sight to see and they went on and on about it. I understand this.

I have witnessed it myself while driving over a canal when one large osprey grabbed its dinner and flew right over my car, grasping the unlucky mullet in its talons. This is nature at its coolest. If you hang around the water in Florida, you’re bound to see one. They especially like estuaries, canals, inlets, rivers and backwater in Florida.


Photo: Kelly Dean

They are unique water birds indeed. They are designed to fish, with opposing talons, keen eyesight and long wingspan.


Photo: Kelly Dean

When perched on a treetop or utility pole, they can be both majestic looking or even a bit ruffled. When the wind blows against their feathers, they look kind of like bad guys, replete with burglar’s mask — or maybe an unmade bed. But with the wind to their beak, they look sleek and majestic, like kings of the air.

I was so impressed with the couple’s excitement, I decided to go out a grab a few shots.

They nest along the causeways and inlets near where we were sitting, so I knew just where to go. I didn’t have to camp or even wait very long to get quite a show.

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Their brown and whitish-gray coloring keeps you from confusing this raptor from the black vulture: both look black in silhouette and are often in the same vicinity, but the osprey is simply gorgeous in flight, unmatched by anything, except perhaps the bald eagle.


Osprey, Matalcha, Photo: Kelly Dean

When they and the pelicans are fishing in the same area, you get twice the pleasure. It’s just another day in Florida.

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