Do Bald Eagles Nest Near Ospreys on Purpose?

17 April 2015

Is it a coincidence that Bald Eagles choose to nest close to Ospreys? I don't think so. We know that Bald Eagles are notorious for scavenging dead animals or stealing prey from other raptors, and it has been documented that Benjamin Franklin pushed for the Wild Turkey over the Bald Eagle to be the Nation’s symbol. However, I don’t look at the behavior of scavenging or stealing as a weakness when it comes to raptor survival; it is a necessity! Even Golden Eagles scavenge frequently on road kill and deer carcasses (HawkWatch’s road kill study is finding this to be a serious issue regarding Golden Eagle mortality), and the Golden Eagle is recognized as the regal, noble eagle out of the two in North America (I can’t say I disagree though – hee hee). So, is it just that the Bald Eagle is smart enough to know that if it nests near Ospreys, that it will have ample opportunity to steal fish from the Ospreys throughout summer? I have seen this at several locations, and it got to the point where as soon as an Osprey would catch a fish, the very next sight was a Bald Eagle headed its way…I wonder how many Ospreys have actually "raised" their own young and the young of the neighboring eagles in one summer? Anyway, feel free to share your observations on the topic!

This photo of a Bald Eagle was shared to me by Luke Ormand from Long Island, NY (where eagles are starting to nest in numbers), and Luke was curious if I had the same opinion as he on this nest association behavior. Thanks Luke.