Wings Over Water

The eagle family I watch swooping ducks on Birch Bay also makes seasonal jaunts to Harrison Lake in British Columbia for fall salmon runs. Sometimes the adults hunt ducks in pairs, one pretending to wander off away from a floating flock, while the other dives in from behind. Occasionally, while the adults keep watch from the top of shoreline pines, the juveniles practice swooping each other, turning their talons toward the other in mock displays later used in rituals, where breeding pairs lock talons in a cartwheeling free-fall they break just before hitting the ground.

Reading about the Bald Eagle on Wikipedia, I note that eagles on nearby San Juan Island consume introduced wild rabbits for as much as 60% of their diet. Weighing about the same as a duck, rabbits can be carried to a nest for distributing to chicks. Anything heavier would have to be dismembered before transport.

Something else I found interesting on Wikipedia is that Golden Eagles, which are rarely seen in this area, are not larger than Bald Eagles. For some reason, I had it in mind that they were.

While on the subject of eagles, residents of the Salish Sea might enjoy visiting the annual Wings Over Water Northwest Birding Festival held in mid-March at Blaine, Washington. In addition to boat rides, guided field trips and birdwatching on the beach, the Sardis Raptor Center brings an array of live owls, falcons, hawks and eagles to the Blaine Middle School cafeteria, where the public can listen to knowledgeable speakers and see the birds up close.

If you’ve never been before, the show is definitely worth the trip.


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