Photographing a Dogfight Between Two Eagles


Here’s the story of how I was in the right-place at the right-time for a special series of eagle photographs.

I was driving down a dirt road near my house when I spotted a red-tailed hawk sitting on the ground. I pulled over for a shot, thinking it may be feeding on something, but it took off and flew across the road in front of me.

Then I saw a bald eagle sitting on a pole, and thought that was great since I hadn’t seen one around my part of Colorado for quite a while.


While I was looking through the viewfinder, I noticed the eagle looking up at something.


It turned out to be a pair of hawks coming in to buzz the tower. Then two more eagles (one juvenile) showed up!


For a minute it looked like a WWII dogfight with wings and claws flashing and slashing their way through the sky. It was awesome! The hawks broke off the conflict and then it was game on between the original eagle and the young one.

One took off in hot pursuit of the other, and I jumped in my car and sped down the road throwing gravel for about a half mile to get back in position to intercept some of the action. Any photographer discipline went straight out the window as I was cranking off shots left and right trying to grab something.

It was all happening fast and a little too far away, but I got a few that show a little bit of what it was like.






The adult prevailed and circled around me once before heading southeast over the horizon. I just stood there smiling.





About the author: Chris Boyack is a photographer based in Littleton, Colorado. Visit his website here. This article originally appeared here.

  • joe

    I don’t believe those are two eagles. The second looks likes an osprey almost.

  • Marc Osborne Jr

    its a juvenile Bald Eagle.

  • Charles Boyer

    Agreed…it’s definitely a juvenile Bald eagle.

  • Dave

    Does not look like osprey.

  • Roy

    This is why still cameras also do video these days.

  • Jake

    But he’s a photographer, not a cameraman. Two different things.

  • Sean McCann

    The photo leading the story is of a Red-tailed Hawk.

  • Fullstop

    Beautiful birds and great captures. However this is definitely an opportunity that video would have captured better.

  • Roy

    True that.

    My comment wasn’t aimed at this particular photographer though. It was meant to be a generic statement that some stories are better told through video.

    FWIW, I’m a stills photographer myself.

  • mantis

    I think this would be really hard, if not almost impossible, to shoot effectively a video of with an SLR and zoom lens. The action would up high, and all over the place. Very hard to follow, and you’d end up with shaky cam nonsense.

  • Roy

    I never suggested that you should use an SLR. :-)

    As for being able to follow the action: that argument applies to photography in equal measures and apparently, the photographer was coping just fine. Shooting birds in flight requires skill acquired through many hours of practice.

    And to prevent “shaky cam nonsense”, man hath invented image stabilisation and tripods. :-)