|A nesting pair of osprey, reunited after separating for the winter and living it up down ol' South America way.|
|Haliaeetus leucocephalus in flight.|
Enter, the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). I've seen both species regularly throughout the area, and it's always a real treat. But to see both was really something else, especially considering what happened next.
Generally speaking, both eagles and osprey can coexist peacefully in the bay watershed. But when is comes to resources and territory, particularly at the beginning of the breeding season, it would seem these birds don't play around. As soon as he male osprey saw the eagle, he immediately started calling and took off like a shot. While bald eagles are known kleptoparasites, I've not heard the same about ospreys. And he eagle didn't have any fish, so I don't think it was about food. I get the impression that the male osprey just didn't like a bigger bird in his territory, and he was all about taking care of business.
The interaction between the two took no longer than it will to get to the bottom of this post, but man was is exciting. Like two planes in a dogfight, the male osprey and the eagle went at it. Well, actually, the osprey went at it. I almost felt bad for the eagle, diving and rolling to avoid the talons of the smaller raptor. But the osprey was tenacious.
|"This is Red 5; I'm going in."|
At one point, it even attempted to defecate on the eagle. Keeping your feathers clean and in functional order is essential for a bird, and the osprey seemed to know it, targeting one of the eagles weaknesses.
|That's low, even for a "thief".|
I'm pretty sure he missed, but that was all the nonsense the eagle needed to experience before it decided it had had enough. Frankly, that would have been it for me too. The eagle high-tailed it, and kept his distance for the remainder of the afternoon.
|Until next time...|
So, what's the moral of the story? Don't mess with an osprey nest. Or, turf wars between raptors are awesome to watch. Or, always have your camera with you. All of the above? I'm not sure, but whatever you take away from it, I hope you enjoyed seeing it through my eyes as much as I did at the time. The male osprey casually went back to guarding his nest, and the eagle circled off into the distance, looking for another place to lay its claim.
|Home sweet home.|
But not before posing for one more super patriotic shot.