Aug 31 2012
Bald eagles are majestic but opportunistic. Sometimes they use their power to steal from others.
I once saw an osprey plunge feet first into a bay, grasp a fish in his talons, and flap like crazy to pull up. As soon as he gained some altitude he shook off the water, just like a dog, and arranged the fish head first for aerodynamic flight. Then he was on his way…
… or so he thought. A bald eagle was watching and decided to steal the fish.
Eagles are fast, powerful fliers on the straight-away and this one knew he had the advantage. He gained on the osprey so quickly I was certain he’d hit him and take the fish.
But the osprey had experience with eagles. He turned and ducked, backtracked and swerved. Sometimes he flew up, sometimes down. The eagle kept up with him but was slower to make the turns. There were moments when the eagle was breathing down his neck but the osprey always escaped.
The osprey knew something I did not. The eagle was getting tired.
Suddenly, to my surprise, the eagle turned and rapidly flew away from the osprey. Through binoculars I could see the eagle’s beak was open. He was panting!
The osprey’s agility won the day.
(photo of an osprey by Steve Gosser)