Osprey eagle skirmish
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On this beautiful sunny Saturday, I drove over to one of my favorite birding spots along the Delaware River in the metro-Philly area. Ospreys, a Pennsylvania species of concern, returned from their overwintering grounds in the past two weeks, and I was hoping to see one today.
At a local shipping facility surrounded by wetlands, a tall lightpole has held an Osprey’s stick nest for several years. To my delight, I saw two Ospreys staked out on the nest – perhaps arrived just a few days ago.
As I watched, an immature Bald Eagle flew in and landed on the edge of the nest structure, causing the Ospreys to raise up in alarm. The pair immediately chased the marauder, taking turns to dive-bomb the first-year eagle, and drive it away. At one moment, the fearless female Osprey was just a foot away, and screaming loudly with talons outstretched.
The young eagle flipped in mid-air to combat with its own talons, but to little avail. I watched the Osprey turn back, but the eagle made a wide circle and flew back to the nest for a second attempt. Bald Eagles are opportunistic scavengers and this immature bird might’ve realized that an Osprey egg would be a tasty meal. The Osprey pair started screaming again, and the eagle’s second attempt at the nest was quickly thwarted.
I don’t know for sure if the Ospreys had already laid an egg, but the experience I witnessed was surely exciting to watch. I wish much success to both Ospreys and Bald Eagles as they embark on their age-old instinct to reproduce and raise the next generation of raptors in Pennsylvania!