In the Field

Kodiak Bear VS Bald Eagle – Food Fight!

Kodiak Bear VS Bald Eagle – Food Fight!

I’ve been creating a lot of eagle videos and blogs lately, as the majestic bald eagle is one of my favorite species of Alaska wildlife…second only to the mighty Kodiak brown bear. In this blog article, I thought I’d feature both animals and share with you one of my favorite bear and eagle encounters. I shared some of this footage in a past video, but in case you missed that one, the story begins with a Kodiak sow and her cub who were hanging out along a beach area on the outskirts of town for several days and then suddenly just disappeared! Meanwhile, a young gray whale that apparently had been killed by a pod of orcas, washed up on another beach many miles away. Dozens of eagles and other creatures were devouring the whale carcass very quickly. Then, one day out of the blue, the sow and cub, who had traveled a long, long way, showed up on the scene. They set up camp right on the beach where the remaining carcass was and literally slept right on top of the huge pile of bones for many weeks. It was truly a once in a life-time photography opportunity. The whale carcass was on a remote beach, below a fairly steep cliff where a gravel road ended. I was able to watch and photograph the action for hours on end in a very safe, non-intrusive way.

Kodiak bear and cub sleeping on gray whale carcass
A sow Kodiak brown bear rests with her cub on top of the carcass of a gray whale.

 

The bears spent their days feasting on nasty, rotting whale blubber and chasing off the hordes of invading eagles. And while most of the eagles cleared out when the bears were actively feeding, some didn’t. One persistent eagle in particular simply would not be intimated by the much larger brown bears and boldly refused to leave all that food behind…especially since the bears didn’t seem to be too terribly happy to share.

When the sow and cub dozed off for a nap or were looking the other way, that eagle would slowly walk up behind them to sneak a few bites of whale blubber. Sometimes he’d get away with it, and sometimes he’d get busted and the bears would aggressively chase him away. After a while the eagle realized that the sow was catching on to him, so, he turned his attention to sneaking some food away from the cub. However, as young bears closely model their mother’s behavior, the cub also began chasing the eagle away every time he started to move in on the bone pile…although the cub had a little more difficult time trying to get the determined eagle to leave.

Kodiak brown bear sow chases eagle away from food
The Kodiak brown bear sow chasing the determined eagle away from her meal of rotting gray whale meat and blubber.

 

Kodiak brown bear cub chases eagle away from food
The Kodiak cub chasing the eagle away.

 

That encounter was certainly one of my most unforgettable wildlife photography outings, and I’ve enjoyed sharing it with you. Check out the video below to see more…

 

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