Grizzly Bear Sow and Cubs Invade Bald Eagle Nest in Alaska

A grizzly bear sow and cubs invade a bald eagle nest on a cliff in Kukak Bay of the Katmai Coast in Katmai National Park, Alaska.  Summer.  June 2018
Photo by Jeff Schultz/  (C) 2018  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I was recently in Katmai National Park this summer and had this VERY unique one-of-a-kind experience. From the boat we were on, we saw and photographed this grizzly sow and three cubs in various places for a couple of days. We photographed some pretty cool stuff including nursing and walking along the rocky shore and the mother swimming. And on this day, we first spotted the mom & the cubs feeding on some grass up high on a cliff. We watched and photographed them for about 5 minutes when we noticed that there was a bald eagle nest just below her and the cubs and it had with an eagle in it— which meant it likely had eggs or chicks in it. The nest was in a downed tree and right near the ground— odd place for a nest we thought. About the same time we saw it, the sow saw it too. And wandered over to it. The adult in the nest did what it could to defend the nest by stretching its wings. And then another eagle (the other adult of the pair we think) dive-bombed the sow. The eagle in the nest left as the sow began to climb into it. And for the next 2 minutes as the bear was in the nest there there was a huge amount of commotion in the sky—- the sow was pretty oblivious to it all.

Two other eagles joined in the dive-bombing ordeal and at the same time a raven was dive-bombing the eagles as they flew. Look close in one of the photos to see the raven. The cubs then got right near the nest too. We were all dumbfounded by this amazing site. We were too low to know if the bear had actually eaten the eggs or chicks. We did not see a lot of chomping or any feathers flying. We debated it long and hard the rest of the day. How could she not eat them?! But the eagles came back right away after the bear left and they stayed on the nest. The next day there was an eagle on the nest again, so we’re thinking the eggs or chicks may have survived. However we are told that the eagles left the nest two days later. What a ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME experience. I don’t think I’ll ever get that possibility again. During the 2 minutes of major commotion I shot 244 images and was shooting at 14 frames-per-second. These are what I feel are the best images. They were all shot with my Canon 1Dx Mark II and a 100-400mm f4-5.6 lens between 330mm & 400mm at 1/1600th second f5.6 ISO 400. ORDER YOUR PRINTS OF THIS UNIQUE ONE-OF-A-KIND EVENT NOW !

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