17770Matador Area Birds
- Oct 12, 2009Just 48 hours after seeing my first Bald Eagle bird hunt, I got to see another one, and I didn't have to go 20 miles away - it happened in sight of our yard.
I was sitting just north of the South Dam watching a dark Red-tailed Hawk in a willow by the water, either a dark morph Red-tailed or a Harlan's Red-tail (I'd caught a beautiful juvenile Harlan's earlier in the day), when an adult Bald Eagle flew between me and the hawk. It headed east over the Big Ditch and towards the couple of thousand geese, ducks and cranes on the other side of the shelterbelts.
After witnessing the goose hunt on Saturday, I wanted to see what happened when the eagle got to the field birds.
I'd sat watching them earlier from less than three hundred yards away - mostly Snow Geese, Mallards, some White-fronts and maybe a hundred Sandhill Cranes - and they didn't seem to mind at all. But, when the Bald Eagle topped the trees, the whole works took to the air.
By the time I got there, the eagle had picked out a young crane and was tailing it just as the eagle had done with the goose on Saturday.
This time I thought I could see why the eagle had picked this young crane, as it seemed to fly awkwardly (but what did I know). They headed out over the flat east of the farmyard with the eagle closely tracking the crane from slightly below, and I figured I'd see another kill.
Not this time. The eagle turned the crane quickly, but as they headed back, they came right over my truck. The crane never broke beat, but the eagle pulled up sharply to avoid going over me. By the time the eagle got back on track, the crane had a big lead on its way back to the dam.
The eagle didn't give up. Within seconds it was pumping hard and closing the gap. But, then they both disappeared over the shelterbelts. By the time I got around the ditch and to the water's edge, all I saw was an adult Bald Eagle joining four other eagles in a poplar on the far side.
Same eagle? I don't know. Maybe the crane was lucky this time. But, man, there doesn't seem to be a lot of quit in these Bald Eagles. Imagine the terror if you were a goose or crane and an adult Bald Eagle locked onto you.
It was a good day to watch predators. On the ice at the dam, there were two coyotes trying to sneak up on some ducks. Along with the two dark morph Red-tails/Harlans', there were at least three other typical light plumaged Red-tails in the yard. I caught a Sharp-shinned Hawk and saw two others playing tag. Two Prairie Falcons, also playing tag but much faster, streaked across the dam on their way south to Lake Diefenbaker. I saw two different Harriers along the Big Ditch. Finally, there was a Cooper's Hawk sunning itself near the Big Ditch earlier this morning.
I also saw a Swainson's Thrush, a Brown Creeper and about fifty Brewer's Blackbirds in the yard today, along with the Purple Finches, juncos and White-throated Sparrows.
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