Mother nature is a cruel mistress, it’s often said. Nevertheless, it can sometimes make for utterly fascinating viewing.
High up in the towering trees of Hog Island in Maine, the Explore.org nest webcams managed to capture some extremely rare footage of a bald eagle preying on an osprey. Die-hard fans of the Explore.org cam would have been up to watch the three osprey chicks – Eric, Little B, and Spirit – grow up since they hatched this spring.
On Tuesday, the live stream also managed to pick up the moment two bald eagles came swooping in during an opportunistic search for food. In a flash, the bald eagle grabs Spirit and flies away, showing a harsh display of this bird of prey’s hunting prowess.
Amazingly, the footage also captures a fledgling seen escaping the nest, Little B, taking their first ad-libbed flight. Although it was more of a drop than a graceful flight, they were later found alive and well not far from the tree.
“It’s an amazing video really. It’s one of the best videos I’ve ever seen of eagle predation.” Steve Kress, vice president for bird conservation at the National Audubon Society, said in a National Audubon Society statement.
A few decades ago, Bald Eagles had fallen on hard times. However, their population has dramatically bounced back in Maine and many US states after huge conservation efforts and the ban on DDT pesticides in 1972.
These rising numbers come with their new challenges, however. Attacks such as this appear to be more and more common. Just last year, the same osprey pair's nest was raided by bald eagles with sadly no survivors, and there have been increasing reports of eagles attacking Double-crested Cormorant nests.
The Explore.org webcams are a crucial tool for the Audubon researchers to understand all of these animals and the subtle balance of power they hold in their ecosystem.