Eagle vs Osprey Dance

Standing on the bow after just dropping anchor, we were surprised to be suddenly in the middle of a swooping aggressive fight over a large fish. The majestic American Bald Eagle was harassing the Osprey, aka “Fish Hawk” with noisy aerial acrobatics in the attempt to steal the Osprey’s fish dinner.

The eagle swoops in loudly harassing the osprey with the fish.

The eagle swoops in loudly harassing the osprey with the fish.

The bald eagle, the only eagle unique to North America, soared through the air with a swooping motion and almost flat wings.  The Osprey, in contrast, one of the most prevalent birds of prey, can be found on almost every continent in the world.   Diving from 30 to 100 feet above the water, Osprey’s catch fish in their sharp curved talons. They then orient the fish head first to fly off to a safe spot to consume dinner.

The eagle is hot on the osprey's trail, swooping and diving to harass the osprey into dropping the recently caught fish.

The eagle is hot on the osprey’s trail, swooping and diving to harass the osprey into dropping the recently caught fish.

Unfortunately the Bald Eagle enjoys fish as well, although it also consumes carrion (dead stuff), smaller birds and rodents.  This particular Bald Eagle must have had a taste for a fish dinner as he harassed the osprey in the ongoing vicious battle.  Often the eagle will dive, catching the fish as it drops from the Osprey’s claws.

Look closely in the middle of the photo - the osprey has dropped the fish, but the eagle isn't fast enough to swoop and retrieve before the water.

Look closely in the middle of the photo – the osprey has dropped the fish, but the eagle isn’t fast enough to swoop and retrieve before the water.

But luck wasn’t on the eagle’s side during this battle and the osprey dropped the fish into the water, both birds lost dinner.  The eagle flew off toward his nest on the south end of the island and the osprey flew away in the other direction.

The bald eagle has a solid dark body, distinctive white head and tail, plus yellow bill and legs.

The bald eagle has a solid dark body, distinctive white head and tail, plus yellow bill and legs.

Bald Eagles and Osprey’s are often confused, but a closer glance will note that the osprey has a white underside, a dark “bandit” stripe over his eye and a dark beak.  The bald eagle is dark with contrasting white head and tail and yellow legs and beak.

The osprey has a white underside, a

The osprey has a white underside, a “bandit” dark stripe across his eye and a dark bill.

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