Brooks Falls: Osprey

Salmon carcasses drift downstream from bears feasting at Brooks Falls, where we saw an osprey fly down the river and land on a tree limb to look around. Like the bald eagle, the osprey is a raptor that eats fish. We hadn’t seen an osprey in Alaska, so we watched it for a bit. And this is what unfolded. All photos can be enlarged by clicking on it.

From the tree limb, the osprey flew down to a rock in the river, grabbed something with its talons, and flapped its wings.

osprey flies down to a rock in the river
osprey flies down to a rock in the river
osprey trying to free a salmon stuck in rocks
osprey tries to lift something

It’s a salmon head. See the red meat. Bears often eat the skin and roe and let the rest of the salmon drift down the river.

tugging at the salmon head
tugging at the salmon head

The osprey couldn’t dislodge the salmon head, so osprey started eating.

osprey feeding on salmon head
osprey feeding on salmon head

A second osprey flew in with its talons open, and the first osprey moved aside.

osprey stealing salmon
second osprey wants the salmon

The first osprey landed on a nearby rock, watching as the second osprey tugged at the salmon.

second osprey tugs at salmon
second osprey tugs at salmon, as first osprey watches

The second osprey couldn’t free the salmon head, so it attacked the watching osprey. The first osprey jumped aside again. Its black wing feathers are sticking out from the tree above the rock.

second osprey attacks the first osprey again
second osprey attacks the first osprey again
first osprey flies off to elude attack
first osprey flies off to evade attack

This was our first time seeing osprey fight over a fish. In Yellowstone we only saw mating pairs guarding their nest and taking turns to fish and feed their young.

The osprey were far down the river from us. These photos were shot at 400 mm. We didn’t see the salmon head until we reviewed the photos and zoomed in.

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charley280

I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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