Owls challenge bald eagle pair for Iowa nest in video

Bob Anderson, director of the Raptor Research Project, said the contest might come down to which avians lay their eggs first.

Ben Hooper

DECORAH, Iowa, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- A pair of Iowa bald eagles attempting to reclaim their old nest are getting competition from great horned owls prepared to fight for the real estate.

Bob Anderson, director of the Raptor Resource Project, said an eagle cam mounted above the nest near the Decorah Fish Hatchery captured a scuffle between one of the eagles, which have occupied the nest for the past two years, and a pair of great horned owls that apparently have plans for the nest.


Anderson said the eagles have the advantage of size, but great horned owls have the nickname "tiger of the air" for a reason.

"Last Sunday night, one male owl was in the nest hooting and checking out the nest substrate when one of the adult bald eagles flew in and drove the owl from the nest," Anderson told The Decorah Newspapers. "A few seconds later, the adult female stoops in and knocks the adult eagle right off the nest. Even though great horned owls are about one-third the size of the bald eagles, their nickname of the flying tiger is completely fitting when you see the adult female owl knock the eagle right off the nest."


Anderson told KWWL-TV the situation is unusual.

"This is the first time that it's ever been documented that they're trying to drive away a territorial pair," Anderson said of the eagles. "And only with the cameras would we know that."

He said the contest for the nest could come down to which pair of birds manage to lay their eggs first. The eagles are expected to lay their eggs around Feb. 20.

"I'm thinking whoever lays their egg first will win over the nest, but I don't know that. Any expectations have yet to reveal themselves," he said.

Anderson said he hopes one of the pairs of birds will take over an old eagle nest across the street. He said the nest already has a camera pointed at it.

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