Eagles Fighting Over Sculpin

As noted in the previous entry, I went to Seabeck to see eagles in action, and I had a hard time capturing even a small part of the action the two days I was there. Although there were more than enough fish around for the herons and the eagles, many of the eagles seemed to prefer stealing a salmon from another bird rather than catching their own.

Though that quite often entailed harassing a Great Blue Heron until it dropped its catch, the eagles weren’t at all shy about attempting to steal a fish from another eagle that had caught one. I was a little surprised to see an immature eagle trying to steal an adult’s catch, though.

eagles fighting over fish

Sometimes it wasn’t clear whether a bird was trying to intimidate another bird or just get to an exposed fish before another eagle did.

eagles fighting over fish

Though it wouldn’t have been surprising to see an eagle startled enough to drop its catch as another eagle came hurtling down upon it,

eagles fighting over fish

more often than not it would merely fly away with its catch,

eagles fighting over fish

suggesting that most of the eagles had played this game before and weren’t about to be intimidated.

Photographically, though, the most exciting shots came when one eagle tried to steal another eagle’s catch mid-air.

eagles fighting over fish

As close as they came to each other, I didn’t see a single collision either day.

eagles fighting over fish

Judging how few fish were actually stolen from another eagle, it would seem that it wasn’t hunger that was driving these air battles. In fact, the eagles seemed to enjoy it almost as much as the lines of people stopped beside the road.

5 thoughts on “Eagles Fighting Over Sculpin”

  1. Interesting Loren. As no fish were actually stolen you can’t help thinking they just enjoyed doing it can you? They are such brilliant fishermen, they really don’t need to steal so perhaps they just enjoy the aerial manouvres.

  2. Eagles, the powerful symbols of our country, acting like cranky hummingbirds around a plastic feeder. Imagine that!
    Marvelous pix, Loren. Thank you.

  3. So if we look at this in evolutionary terms, stealing from other birds would appear to be more efficient, conserving energy and ensuring good nutrition for the thief, thus reinforcing the strength/aggressiveness advantage that allowed it to steal successfully in the first place! But if we take this thievery more as a function of higher order self-entertainment than as mere survival, it gets more interesting again, suggesting pleasure, frolic and fun play major roles in the course of the eagle’s “workday.” That even when they’re hunting, they’re focused on having a good time. Whoopi for them!

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