Thursday, May 31, 2012

More Eagles - Fighting & Fishing - Day 134

Warning! This is a rather long and graphic intensive post. Enjoy!

We were treated to an interesting situation on the beach on this particular evening. A bald eagle came out to hunt (we believe a young adult) and was intercepted and attacked by an osprey.

After a bit, the osprey left the area.

The eagle began its fishing expedition. It would circle and circle, looking for its prey in the water.

When it spotted a fish, down would come the talons and the eagle would move down to a lower altitude.

Then it would hover waiting for just the right moment to plunge into the water. All the while never taking its eyes off the prey.

Into the sound the eagle would go, with only the tips of it's wings remaining above the water, and emerge moments later.

When it came up empty handed, back to circling it went.

Over and over this played out until finally the eagle got tired and left. Empty handed for the evening.

Meanwhile, another type of drama was playing out on the beach. Seagulls are interesting birds. Scavengers. While the bald eagle was fishing, a seagull found itself a clam, flew up in the air and dropped it on the beach to crack it open. Immediately two other gulls swooped in trying to get a free meal. The result was much arguing with the result that one of the intruder gulls grabbed part of the clam. Never a dull moment!

Lastly, our new garden beginning to take shape.

May 13

©2012 Michelle Goodrum


  1. With my ornithologist hat on:

    The Bald Eagle is an adult in full adult plumage, with the white head and tail. Bald Eagles attain adult plumage in thier 4th year.

    Young birds start out mottly brown and go through several moults (roughly annually for body feathers) becoming mottly brown and white before moulting into adult plumage. After this the adult plumage pattern does not change, even though the birds moult body feathers annually.

    So, this eagle is at least 4 years old, but may be much older.

    With my genealogist hat on:
    It is a bit like identifying the ages of people in photgraphs. Babies, children and teenagers can be fairly accuratley aged, but adults are much more difficult. The difference is that adult birds stay looking much the same forever, but humans age badly!

    Nice action shots. What lens did you use?

    1. The lense is Canon EF-S zoom 55-250mm. These pictures were pretty much pushing the limits of the lense.

      We were surprised an osprey would be willing to go after an eagle like it did. The osprey was pretty much outmatched!

      Thanks for contributing your ornithologist expertise!

  2. The osprey's behaviour could be either territorial or mobbing. As both are fish eaters, the osprey could have been defending its hunting patch. It is common for smaller birds (including birds of prey) to hassle a larger predator, known as mobbing.

    In a straight fight the osprey would be outmatched, but they are more agile than eagles, so it was not in much danger.

    1. We have witnessed the mobbing you speak of with the smaller birds - crows and seagulls. It's rather amusing actually.

      Didn't know osprey might do that too. We figured it was outmatched by the eagle and were wondering if it was just dumb. lol. But from what you say, it was being pretty smart. Kind of like, "neener, neener, neener. You can't catch me! Now get out of my territory."

      Thanks for all the info. We have had some interesting discussions lately while watching these birds. You help put it in perspective.