Pictured here is an Osprey I met several years ago. He was hungry and I happened to be close enough to watch and photograph while he hunted. Ospreys eat fish. You will find them near or over water. They come through Texas on their way to South America for the winter and again when they migrate through on their way to northern Canada and Alaska in the spring.
In this image you can see the major markings that distinguish this bird. The white breast and belly, the black patch at the wrist, and the dark stripe down the side of the white head. No other hawk in North America looks like this.
The Osprey is executing a sharp left bank. Notice his head position, he is locked on prey and will strive to keep it in sight despite his motion. Also, you can see that he has his wings fully extended in this view. In the first image, the wings were bent at the wrist to give them a v-shape. Ospreys are the only hawks that do this in flight.
In the third image, you can see this bird begin to come into a hover prior to attacking an unsuspecting fish. Notice how long his legs are and how they are being brought forward prior to a strike.
In the final image, you can see the Osprey in full hover, with talons at the ready. They are able to fly like kingfishers and “hang” in the air above prey before dropping in on them for dinner. This bird, despite all his flight skills, was unable to locate a suitable target and complete his mission. Such is the life of a predator, sometimes you catch prey; sometimes you go hungry.
Ospreys belong to the Pandionidae family which was created just for this unique bird. Pandion haliaetus, the Osprey, is the only fish eating hawk in North America. Some folks confuse them with young bald eagles but the white breast and belly and the head stripe make identification easy.