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This Week’s Creature Feature: Osprey and Eagles

Like baseball rivals, these birds are regular springtime competitors

     Most Chesapeake eagles winter along the Bay and its tributaries. Osprey, on the other hand, spend the winter in South America. In the middle of March, osprey start returning to our area only to find that many of their roosting, fishing and nesting spots have been taken over by eagles. Osprey are able to reclaim territory because they are more agile in the air than eagles. They chase and hound eagles away from nesting areas. 
      The tables are turned when osprey are carrying a fish. Eagles can soar over fishing osprey. When the osprey dives talons first into the water and pulls up a heavy fish, an eagle can be quick to give chase. The weighed-down bird can no longer out-fly the eagle and is frequently forced to drop its catch. Eagles fight with each other for food, so picking on osprey is just another way to eat. 
     After the spring run of fish is over and the osprey establish a nest, the dynamics between the eagle and osprey gets re-established and confrontations are less common.