Aug 31 2012

Triumph of Agility

Published by at 7:30 am under Bird Behavior,Birds of Prey

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)

6 responses so far

6 Responses to “Triumph of Agility”

  1. Jonion 31 Aug 2012 at 8:28 am

    I, absolutely, love Osprey!

  2. Karen Bon 31 Aug 2012 at 8:29 am

    My husband saw the same thing at Elk Creek but the osprey dropped the fish. It happened right in front of him and he said it was amazing.

  3. Dan Coleon 31 Aug 2012 at 9:35 am

    Kate,

    I saw this and thought of your blog, which I enjoy so much.

    http://spectrum.ieee.org/podcast/aerospace/aviation/fastest-natural-flier-peregrine-falcon

  4. Karen Langon 31 Aug 2012 at 2:52 pm

    At the shore in Delaware I see this often. I did see it when the osprey lost his fish to the eagle. He went back to “fishing” soon came up with another fish to feed his chicks.

  5. Kate St. Johnon 31 Aug 2012 at 5:04 pm

    I have hit a round number. This is my 1,600th blog post.

  6. Steve Valasekon 01 Sep 2012 at 10:26 pm

    I saw and Osprey today being bugged by a crow.

    But did you know that Ben Franklin wanted the turkey to be our national bird and not the lazy-cowardly Eagle?

    “For my own part I wish the Eagle had not been chosen the representative of our country. He is a bird of bad moral character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead tree near the river, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.
    With all this injustice, he is never in good case but like those among men who live by sharping & robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our country…
    “I am on this account not displeased that the figure is not known as a Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the truth the Turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.'”

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