An Eagle Vs. A Red-winged Blackbird

At all my visits to Blackwater NWR, there are several specific trees that I always check for a perched Eagle, including one tree that is directly in front of you on the wildlife drive before it curves to the right.  I’ve been lucky to sight an Eagle there several times before, including a post that I shared of some of my best captures of this gorgeous bird last year HERE.

During our last visit, coming down that stretch of the wildlife drive, there he/she was, just as I had hoped.  Stopping back a ways so I could hopefully exit our car without disturbing the Eagle and be able to move around, I took my first shot.  Oh boy, he was watching me.  I thought, oh no, he’s going to fly, and I wanted to get closer!


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Bald Eagle


Wow, no flight.  And the Eagle didn’t seem to even care about me as he looked off to the distance.  So I slowly walked a little further down the wildlife drive and took several more shots.


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Bald Eagle


I was in awe of his beauty.  Again, I moved closer still and was starting to move a few more steps, when suddenly a Red-winged Blackbird came out of nowhere and started to harass the Eagle.

The Eagle took flight to avoid the nuisance.


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Red-winged Blackbird attacking a Bald Eagle.


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Red-winged Blackbird chasing a Bald Eagle.


The Red-winged Blackbird stayed right behind him, not giving up.


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Red-winged Blackbird chasing a Bald Eagle.


Moving quicker, the Red-winged Blackbird caught up to the Bald Eagle for another hit.


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Red-winged Blackbird attacks the Eagle again.



That last attack put the Eagle on notice to pick up speed.


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Bald Eagle moving quickly to get away from the attacking Red-winged Blackbird.


The Red-winged Blackbird stopped his pursuit and turned back while the Eagle kept on the move.


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Bald Eagle leaving the area.


Most likely, the Red-winged Blackbird had a nest very close by and considered the Eagle in his territory.  He was back to his own perch, looking pleased with his accomplishment.


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Red-winged Blackbird (male)


As in this instance, sometimes the underdog wins.  πŸ™‚


66 thoughts on “An Eagle Vs. A Red-winged Blackbird

  1. What a wonderful moment in nature, I’m happy you were there to document this event. In my neighborhood, I only see the Mockingbirds chasing the Crows, haha.

    • Thanks Jerry! I’ve seen this scenario many times too. Being around the boat docks, we have a lot of Barn Swallows. I’ve seen them chase just about anything, including Osprey Beau!

  2. Great shots, Donna! I have seen and photographed a red winged blackbird attacking a great egret at Blackwater NWR, and have seen other photos of the same thing on the FB page MDBirding, so there is definitely something about being too close to a nesting area that causes ‘no fear’ in these smaller birds going after a larger one. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you! I think many small birds have ‘no fear’ when protecting their nests. Have you seen how the Barn Swallows are around the boat docks with no fear? They’ll chase everything too. I had several of them chasing Beau when he kind of swooped down and then up to go in to flight from the nest. I think they surprised him too! πŸ™‚

  3. Two birds I’ve seen attack raptors, they are RWBlackbird and the Northern Mockingbird. For some reason the get away with this action. By my own observations, birds have eyes in both sides of the head and they see perfectly with one eye but if they want to figure out the distance between they and a subject they see like we do, 3D to get focus differential and calculate distances. Your photos are very well executed! Thank you Donna! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you HJ for your added comments! Would you believe I’ve seen Barn Swallows chase my Osprey, Beau?!!! I thought that was crazy! We have a lot of Barn Swallows around the boat docks and they as a group will chase anything that comes near the docks. Beau just kept on flying, trying to get away from them. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you Deborah! I enjoyed it too, knowing the RWB was really safe in his harassing because the Eagle doesn’t want to waste his time and energy on such a nuisance. πŸ˜‰

  4. Some birds don’t care how big you are and if you are too close to their nest, they will attack humans also for safeguard. Nice outstretched wings.

  5. Love these close-up shots! I just witnessed a RWB splitting up a pair of eagles over the Heinz NWR up here near Philly. But I didn’t have a spectacular view like this!

  6. You do get some of the most amazing catches! A matter of not just luck, but knowing what you’re doing, being prepared and just a tiny bit of luck. πŸ˜€ These are some very amazing action shots! Thanks for sharing.

    • Luck is ALWAYS part of it, that right place right time scenario! πŸ˜€ I love the challenge of capturing behavior more than profiles of birds. Maybe you have noticed that?!! πŸ˜‰ Thank you, Gunta!!

  7. Great action captures Donna! It is amazing how the small aggressive πŸ¦… can move along such large birds that would normally eat them. Have a wonderful weekend Donna 😊

    • Thank you Ashley! You can almost hear the Eagle saying, “Oh geez, just leave me alone you pesky little thing…..” I guess they don’t care to waste their energy on the little guys. πŸ™‚

  8. Very nice Donna! I know exactly the tree you mentioned. And quite often there is an Eagle or two there. Sometimes they stay there. But one of my favorite trees or a tall Snag was around that corner and down a little before it bends again. Often there were 2 Eagles there. Taking turns going after the Red-winged Blackbirds or whatever else they could find. But they either took it down or it fell down.

    • Thank you Reed! I think I know what tree you’re talking about, it was on the right in the middle of the field? If that one, it is gone. 😦 Big disappointment for all visitors! It was there for so long, I think it probably finally fell and was removed.

  9. Pingback: A Sandhill Crane and A Pair of Red-winged Blackbirds | Photos by Donna

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