Ospreys hunt for fish on the wing (less often from a perch), flapping and gliding 10 to 40 meters above the water. When an osprey spots a fish, it hovers briefly, then dives toward the surface of the water. Just before hitting the water, the osprey swings its legs forward and bends its wings back, plunging feet-first into the water. The osprey uses strong, almost horizontal wing beats to lift itself and its prey from the water. Once airborne, the osprey rearranges the fish in its feet, carrying it with one foot in front of the other so that the fish is facing forward. This position presumably makes the fish more aerodynamic, and easier to carry. The osprey then takes the fish to a perch, often near the nest, to eat.
Ospreys catch fish on 24 to 74% of their dives. This success rate is affected by individual ability, weather and tide.