Who’s Fish Is It Anyway?!

Yesterday afternoon I saw this osprey flying across the salt with a small fish he had just plucked out of the water. Almost instantly the osprey was jumped by a bald eagle that had been sitting in a nearby tree waiting for exactly this situation to present itself. The osprey really wanted his fish, he caught it, he assumed he owned it. So the osprey did everything it could to escape the marauding eagle. It began flying evasive maneuvers that would put any modern jet fighter to shame, but still the eagle kept up with him.

At one point the osprey appeared to be successful in shaking off the attacker, but that eagle was determined. It did one tight swoop back around and finally succeeded in getting the osprey to drop it’s prize. After grabbing up it’s plundered fish, the eagle took it into a nearby tree where by the time I made my way over the fish was down the hatch and gone.

It seems to me that the eagle could easily catch it’s own fish with likely half the effort it takes to chase around an osprey. But such is the nature of the bald eagle who is often quite happy to let another bird do the work, plus I think the eagle truly enjoys the thrill of the chase! 

Bald Eagle Chases Osprey

Bald Eagle Chases Osprey

Bald Eagle Chases Osprey

Bald Eagle Chases Osprey

Bald Eagle Chases Osprey

Bald Eagle Chases Osprey

Bald Eagle Chases Osprey

Bald Eagle Chases Osprey

Bald Eagle Chases Osprey

Bald Eagle Chases Osprey

Bald Eagle Chases Osprey

Bald Eagle Chases Osprey

63 thoughts on “Who’s Fish Is It Anyway?!

  1. A thrilling chase ! Like chases in movies !
    You captured the series of pictures wonderfully , Phil !
    It is a series you can be proud of !!
    Keep going !


  2. Apart from the hunting instincts: the two are really artists of the skies! These are again very impressive photos, dear Phil!

  3. The action is so cool! Reminds me of the old-time dogfights in WWII. Great captures of what happened. The eagle is a bigger predator. He can do what he wants.

    • It does remind me of air war dog fights for sure, but these two were better at it then most planes would be I think. They are nature’s fighter jets!
      The eagle is kind of like the alligator out there…top of the food chain.

  4. Great action/behavior series, Phil. I was thinking the same thing when I came across your comment that catching a fish himself would have been less effort…but you are right, not nearly as much fun for the eagle. Super!

    • I have to think that is part of it for the eagle Steve, they do it because they can. Top of the food chain birds and animals likely exhibit more of this type of behavior then we even realize.
      Glad you liked these shots!

    • I do my share of spinning around and getting dizzy trying to follow these guys. Plus they were flying so erratically. But I guess that’s the point for the osprey…fly as crazy as you can and maybe you can shake the eagle!
      Thanks I’m glad you liked these shots!

  5. Great photos and story. You are right – it does seem like he could catch his own food with less effort.

    Maybe Ben Franklin was right: America should have a different bird for our national symbol. Bald eagles are jerks.

    “For my own part I wish the Bald 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 Labour 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 Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.” – Ben Franklin

    • I have actually (gasp) seen bald eagles pluck their own fish from out of the marsh and it always did seem quicker and easier then going through so much effort with the chasing.
      So again, I sometimes think they do stuff like this simply because they can.
      Old Ben had a good point for sure.

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