Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bald Eagle

Last week John Holden and I ended up in Prescott, Wisconsin, at the confluence of the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers. We missed the target species of the day, Snowy Owl and Long-tailed Duck. With ambient temperatures around zero degrees F., we found the little open water to be full of goldeneyes and mergansers. We did enjoy watching a dozen Bald Eagles fishing along the Mississippi River. 

Bald Eagles are opportunistic feeders. Generally they prefer fish, alive or dead.  They also take birds and mammals, and are not adverse to carrion. They congregate at Alaskan garbage dumps (Buehler 2000). As you can see in these photos, the ducks paid little attention to the eagles, unless the raptors came too close. Note the splash to the right of the eagle made by the diving goldeneye in the center photo. The goldeneye probably had cause for alarm, because, as reported by observers, a local eagle did carry off the Black Scoter that John and I saw last December.

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