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Thursday, January 15, 2015

"Power hopping"

Driving by Gaffney Point in Bodega Harbor this morning, I noticed the vultures were interested in a bird that was larger than they were.  Do you recognize it?

The birds were out on the mudflats, but here's a zoomed in view (below).  I suppose I should clarify that the vultures were interested in what this young Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was eating, not necessarily in the bird itself:

More Turkey Vultures started to gather nearby:

At first the eagle was focused on eating its prey, but eventually it turned to defend its meal.  It "power hopped" (a new term! = using its wings along with its legs) among the vultures to force them to back away.

When the eagle left its partially eaten prey, the vultures wasted no time (next image).  How many vultures do you count?

Soon the eagle made its way back to finish off the rest of the prey.

There were several "scuffles" when the birds "shuffled," and I managed one flight shot:

Note the Western Gull below the eagle for scale.

Bald Eagles have been reported recently from the Russian River, Tomales Bay, and Bodega Harbor.  Perhaps this picture will be good enough to identify this individual so that we can tell if it's the same bird moving around among these different sites.

P.S.  Here's a nice shot of two adult Bald Eagles on Hog Island in Tomales Bay on 23 November 2012.

P.P.S.  A Bald Eagle won't show a completely white head until it's ~5 years old.


Claudia said...

I'm surprised so many birds were interested in such a small meal. Perhaps it was something particularly tasty.

Jackie Sones said...

Good point, Claudia! We were also interested in what the eagle was eating. Stay tuned, as there may be more information about that forthcoming! (Although I'm not totally sure about the "tastiness.")

;) Jackie

Peter Connors said...

Jackie, we've seen an adult Bald Eagle twice this winter near Jenner, so there are at least two around.

Avery said...

Our class saw an adult bald eagle at the Russian River this summer