05-08-2012, 07:03 AM
I've seen many images of eagles confronting another eagle over food or position. But yesterday we had a confrontation between species, but not what I expected.
I was sitting in the spa attached to our pool soothing my sore muscles from gardening. As always I was watching the birds. A single bald eagle was perched at the top of a tulip popular tree in the woods near the house. It was one of a pair that has a nest nearby and the pair frequently perch there together. I also saw a bird approaching from behind the tree. Due to the angle, I couldn't identify the species but assumed it was the mate. However, as it approached it was clear this was an osprey and it headed directly for the eagle and tried to knock or chase it from it's perch. The eagle merely crouched down onto the branch as the osprey sailed over.
We have both nesting ospreys and eagles in the area and their prime hunting ground is the water in front of the house. It's shallow and both like to sit in the trees watching for fish. Spawning time is approaching and the two species take a lot of fish that are distracted. The eagle is usually the winner here as it will not only catch it's own fish but will steal fish from the osprey. This is the first I've seen the osprey try to displace the eagle from his favorite perch and his fishing grounds.
ETL Moderator- Staff Ornithologist
05-08-2012, 09:12 AM
Hi Linda- Interesting observation. As you know, eagles are well known fish-eaters and scavengers but are also powerful predators. Might the Osprey have been mobbing the eagle, perhaps because the former had a nest nearby?
05-08-2012, 03:04 PM
John: Both the osprey and the eagle have nests nearby. The osprey has a nest about a mile away (as the osprey flies, so to say) at the top of a grain silo, a site that has been occupied by ospreys since the early 70s, a time when they were decreasing in numbers due to DDT. The eagles have a nest that is less than 1/2 mile away, across the creek water and west of here. That's a fairly new nest of about 3 years. Their prior nest was lost due to the toppling of the tree it was in. Both like to fish here, especially when the fish are spawning. This was an attack to see if the osprey could make the eagle move away either because of the nest or the fishing rights.
BTW, I saw a fight one time between and eagle, and osprey and a black vulture over a fish. Lots of tumbling in the sky between all the individuals. And then winner was -- the vulture!!!! I was really surprised about the outcome but it was the vulture that flew away with the fish. And it's always interesting to find a fish rotting in the middle of a field hundreds of yards (or meters) from the water. Obviously none of the combatants managed to snag the fish and it fell to the ground.
It's always interesting to watch birds while relaxing!
05-08-2012, 03:38 PM
Originally Posted by Linda Dulak
Just a couple of thoughts about your comments.
As you know that grain silo that hosts the osprey nest is also the locus of our wi-fi transmission antenna. So if a problem with the antenna were to develop during the nesting season, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources would not allow interference with the ospreys to fix the antenna. Can you say dial-up internet access?
And the vultures reign supreme over the eagles in one more important way -- they are the masters of thermal detection. So when the eagles want to soar, they look to the vultures for guidance and follow them up into the thermals!
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