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Friday, January 16, 2015

What the eagle had landed on...

Was anyone else wondering about what the eagle was eating?


Did you notice the feathers behind the eagle?

Well, later in the day, long after the eagle (and vultures) had left the scene, I couldn't help it.  I walked out onto the tidal flats to look at the feathers to see if there were any that might be definitive for an identification.

I should mention that Eric thought he saw a lot of black and white when he was watching the eagle eating.  And my instinct said that the prey item was likely a duck.  (So it's helpful to start thinking about the types of ducks that are present in Bodega Harbor.)

If you'd like to try to guess, below are pictures of three feathers.  In the field, there were some feathers that were all black and some feathers that were all white, but these feathers with beautiful vermiculations provided the best clues:





Are you ready to guess?


I think the eagle was eating a scaup, probably a Greater Scaup (Aythya marila).

Check out this wonderful Greater Scaup picture that Len took at Lake Merced, compare the feathers on the upperparts, and see if you think it could be a match.

If you've seen eagles eating other interesting prey in this area, I'd love to hear about it.

1 comment:

Darris B. Nelson said...

I've seen remains of gulls and grebes but nothing with this feather pattern. We've spotted a large flock of these beautiful Greater Scaup but didn't know what they were. Thanks so much for the ID. They are a stunningly handsome duck.