Bald eagles in Decorah, Iowa, are fighting off some interlopers hoping to steal their nest: great horned owls. Here's a tangle between the two predators, as seen by nest cameras. The action starts around the 16:00 mark.
In the footage, a male great horned owl lands in one of the nests used by Decorah's bald eagles. The owl hoots, and off camera, an eagle responds. Then a male bald eagle lands on the nest, chasing the owl off. All seems well — until a streak flies across the camera. It's a female great horned owl who knocks the eagle out of the nest.
Great horned owls are "the tigers of the air"It's not the first clash between the ferocious birds of prey, and it's unlikely to be the last, Bob Anderson, director of the Raptor Resource Project in Decorah, tells The Des Moines Register. But it's never been filmed before, he says. "The footage is shocking," Anderson says. "This is the first time it's ever been documented. Ever."
While bald eagles are much larger than than owls, the owls are "the tigers of the air," Anderson says. Bald eagles have an average wingspan of 83 inches and weigh 10 pounds; great horned owls have about half the wingspan, at 48 inches, and weigh just 3.7 pounds. But the owls make up for their tiny size in viciousness; they can prey on waterfowl, cats, and even dogs, Anderson says. Great horned owls also take over other birds' nests for their eggs.
The eagles are Iowan celebritiesThe eagles — Iowan celebrities — have been nesting here for some time, producing 20 chicks. They're due to lay their latest batch in three weeks, and chicks should hatch in a month. The great horned owl nests at the same time, though. "Whoever lays the first egg will get the nest," Anderson tells The Des Moines Register. "That's my guess."
A livestream of the nest is available for anyone curious to see how the battle will play out.