Raptors

Raptors

A pair of these guys used to have a nest in a yard a few blocks from mine, but they haven’t used for the last two years, as far as I can tell. On a similar note, I haven’t seen the foxes for a few days and I’m worried the mother might have moved her kits to another den. Why is anyone’s guess.

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Surprise!

Just when all the nests and baby birds and new young things were starting to lose my interest, I¬†learned something amazing: a pair of bald eagles are raising chicks right down the street! There’s a tall pine tree in someone’s backyard, and the eagles have built a huge nest (5 or 6 feet across) up in the highest crook. I got some pictures, but it’s so many feet in the air they’re pretty fuzzy. A little point-and-shoot zoom lens can only be asked to do so much. ūüėČ

Anyway, I’ve spent a couple of days watching the birds, and they are just amazing. (I am¬†wildly jealous of whoever’s got them in their yard!) There are two huge eagles and (presumably) a nest full of chicks. Generally, one eagle sits on a branch and stands guard, while its mate is out hunting. Sooner or later, the other eagle will fly into the nest, and then the guard takes off seconds later to go hunt/fish/stretch its wings/etc. It’s¬†incredible to watch. Last night I got to see the parent tearing up whatever it caught (probably fish) and feeding it to the chicks.

The yard has become a sort of neighborhood camp ground.¬†People are¬†always there trying to catch some action. It’s amazing how after so many years of worrying about these great birds and trying to save them from extinction, they’re raising their offspring in our backyards.

More to come….

 

Eagles

Yesterday I was lucky enough to spot a bald eagle perched in a tree near the river. These birds will stay by the water as long as there are holes in the ice (which is nearly always – the Mississippi never completely freezes here). Bald eagles are one of the largest birds of prey in MN, & eat primarily fish, although they will eat other rodents too, & will steal other birds’ meals (not a problem for them,¬†since the other meat-eating birds here are only about half their size). The eagles also have a long lifespan, living 20-30 years in the wild. Click on the link for more information on these large birds: ÔĽŅhttp://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Library/Birds/Bald-Eagle.aspx.

Bald Eagle

I’ve spotted a few bald eagles recently on the Mississippi river, circle overhead watching for any prey. Mostly they catch fish, but they do also eat rabbits, squirrels, & pretty much any animal they can find if they are hungry enough.

Here’s a gross but neat fact that interested me: When a hunting eagle grabs a fish, it’s talons lock onto the fish so strongly that it is actually impossible for the eagle to let go. So if the fish being caught was stronger than the eagle (that would have to be a pretty big fish), the bird would drown, because the eagle would be unable to let go of the fish, & would be pulled underwater. The eagle (if it gets the fish) has to eat the fish off it’s talons to unclasp them.