An osprey harvests a kokanee on Ririe Reservoir. | Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com
The osprey just could not help bragging about his catch after it had captured a nice kokanee at Ririe Reservoir as the sun tried to shine through the smoke-filled dawn. An adult golden eagle just could not pass up an opportunity for a free fish and started to chase the bragger. As soon as the eagle was near its tail feathers, the osprey dropped the fish which was collected quickly by the eagle, taken to the shore and dispatched.
It was training time. With two immature eaglets trying to munch on the kokanee, the adult took the fish and dropped it in the water. Three times the eaglets attempted to pick the fish off the top of the water, but their timing was too bad for them to harvest their breakfast. The fourth time was the charm as finally one youngster got close enough to get its tail feathers wet and got the fish.
About ten minutes later another osprey captured a fish and the adult stole it for the other eaglet and then captured a fish for itself. With all three eagles busy eating, the next fish captured by an osprey became his and all his bragging did not create a chase. “A fish going into the belly is better than a “maybe” in the talons of an osprey!”
An immature golden eagle successfully finally picks up a fish after three misses at it. | Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com
Across the reservoir from the picnic area near the power line, a pair of golden eagles raised three eaglets this year. It is the third year that I have observed this pair successfully hatching babies in the same nest. The nest is on top of some cliffs near the top of the canyon and is becoming huge as they keep adding sticks to it each season.
For the last few days, the third eaglet and one adult has been staying at the bottom of the cliff just west of the nest. I have not seen that youngster fly and the adult that has been teaching the other two how to fish and chase ospreys, has been delivering fish and snakes to those two. When that young eagle gets hungry, you can here it calling to the others.
An immature golden eagle attempts to pick up a fish that had been dropped by one of its parents. | Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com
On Wednesday, a Bald eagle showed up for about 15 seconds and was chased away by one of the adults while Turkey buzzards that were riding the up-drafts created by the breeze in the canyon are tolerated by the eagles.
To get pictures of the eagles, I basically had to stop fishing so that I could be ready when they decided to chase something. With their wide, long and powerful wings, golden eagles are considered one of the best fliers of all the raptors. While soaring, which they prefer to do, they travel about 30 miles per hour and while gliding while hunting, they will travel about 120 mph.
Bragging ospreys living near Ririe Reservoir should learn to be silent after harvesting a fish as they have no chance to escape a determined golden. In an intense dive to force ospreys to give up their catch, these eagles can reach speeds from 150 to 200 mph. No wonder I blurred most of the photos of the eagles attacking the ospreys.
A mature golden eagle circles above several ospreys waiting for an osprey to get a fish so it can steal it. | Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com
Their speed can also be a liability as one study in Idaho showed golden eagles are only successful in about 25 percent of their attacks as they over-shoot their targets. No wonder the young eagles had such a hard time picking up the floating fish. Bald eagles fly slower and I have watched them chase ospreys, forcing them to give up the catch with the Bald picking off the dropping fish in the air. I have never seen a golden do that.
The two most dangerous things for these huge birds to contend with are other goldens when fighting for territory and wind power farms. They really have no other predators.
If you are fishing or recreating on Ririe Reservoir in the early morning, stop for a few minutes when near them; you might see a sight that you have never seen before. For a big bird, they are very graceful as they steal food for family and themselves.
A mature eagle delivers a kokanee to an eaglet that was unable to capture its own breakfast.
| Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com
A mature eagle flies below the huge nest where a pair has raised three eaglets this year. | Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com
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