From Predator to Prey – Watch a Bald Eagle Ambush a Hunting Osprey Outside Seattle

Written by Kirstin Harrington
Updated: August 30, 2023
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Key Points

  • Eagles snag fish with their talons or chase after an osprey or other fish-eating bird until it drops its catch, which the eagle then steals in midair.
  • During mating season, most eagles grow more aggressive and are more prone to attack.
  • An osprey flies between 30 to 130 feet above the water while hunting for fish.

At a lake in Seattle, Washington, a family is enjoying a rare sunny day in the rainy city. While relaxing on the water, a hunting osprey effortlessly dives into the water attempting to catch some fresh lunch. Ospreys have a special hunting technique and nearly exclusively eat fish

Ospreys often capture the species of fish that are more prevalent in the region when they are fishing. Between 30 to 130 feet above the water, the bird flies. Depending on the wind speed, an osprey will alternate between wing strokes and gliding as it scans the water below. The osprey lingers briefly after spotting prospective prey before deciding whether to plunge or move on to another location. 

When the chance presents itself, the osprey has the ability to dive without hovering, which has the potential to result in a successful catch. Unfortunately, the one in this family’s video wasn’t so lucky. 

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Is it Normal for Eagles to Attack Other Birds?

Hawk vs Eagle - Bald Eagle Catching a Fish
Most of the time eagles tear larger fish in half because they are too heavy to carry. Most eagles can lift five or six pounds


Bald eagles are strong birds and aggressive hunters. With muscles big enough to carry a bird up to twelve pounds plus the weight of whatever it might carry in its talons, that makes for a powerful bird.

Bald eagles eat mostly fish, but once in a while, they will eat other birds, especially seabirds and waterfowl. Occasionally they will snack on roadkill or scavenge dead animal matter. Stealing the prey of another predator is a rare occurrence and is most likely to happen during mating season when the males are known to exhibit more aggressive behavior.

Watch: A Hunting Osprey is Attacked by a Bald Eagle

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Anytime we see videos like this, it makes us wonder what we’d do in a similar situation. Since it’s hard to intervene with birds in the sky, you’re left to sit back and marvel at two birds of prey dueling it out right in front of your eyes.

Birds of a Feather

Instead of catching a fish and enjoying a well-deserved meal, the osprey is met with another creature: an American bald eagle. The family is audibly stunned when they notice that the eagle is attacking the osprey. 

Bald eagles are mighty, majestic birds of prey that are very gregarious outside of breeding season and serve as the national symbol of the United States. They snag fish with their talons or chase after an osprey or other fish-eating bird until it drops its catch, which the eagle then snatches in midair.

Animals That Live in Coral Reefs: Ospreys
Ospreys have mastered the art of holding slippery fish tight and ensuring the least wind resistance with their catch


After a couple of swoops to hurt the osprey, the eagle flies off for a short time and comes back around to attempt one last attack. The video ends before we can see what happens, but it’s wild to see how different bird species act toward one another in the wild. 

Eagles are among the most hazardous raptors because of their ability to seek and kill prey. During mating season, most eagles grow more aggressive and are more prone to attack. Eagles may defend themselves by leashing an assault if someone enters their territory since they are aggressive birds with strong territorial instincts. 

As this osprey just discovered, eagles can be a fierce opponent once they have you in their sights. Our fingers are crossed that both animals made it out of the encounter unscathed. By the end of the video, you can hear the man recording mention that the osprey flew away in the time the eagle was circling back. Let’s hope he is right! 

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At first it’s pretty hard to tell precisely who’s antagonizing who. Yet when both participants in this epic street fight separate, the eagle lands on the ground. But it doesn’t remain there for long, however. Springing to its feet, it knocks the husky over. Supremely surprising, given the size of the canine. The rescue squad arrives. And not a minute too soon. However, it soon finds itself having to flee before the avian’s ferocious attack. Its sibling also flees the scene, leaving the eagle standing all alone and ruffled, but none the worse for wear.

This eagle decided to take on a canine and then backup arrived. Find out how it all played out

The Featured Image

bald eagle in flight over water
In 1940, the US government enacted the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, prohibiting anyone from taking bald or golden eagles, including their parts

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About the Author

When she's not busy playing with her several guinea pigs or her cat Finlay Kirstin is writing articles to help other pet owners. She's also a REALTOR® in the Twin Cities and is passionate about social justice. There's nothing that beats a rainy day with a warm cup of tea and Frank Sinatra on vinyl for this millennial.

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