|Bald Eagle Behavior - November 15, 2006|
This time of year most birders flock to SE Minnesota to see the thousands of Tundra Swans that stop here along their migration route. Like others my original intent was to photograph the swans (and I did), but as the days have gone by my focus has shifted to the fifty or so Bald Eagles that are found along the Mississippi River and accompanying bluffs.
Today at about 10 AM I saw the sun was trying to break through the clouds, so I headed down to where the Tundra Swans are located south of Brownsville, MN. My goal for today was to photograph the Bald Eagles.
Upon arrival, I found about 30 Bald Eagles (mostly juveniles) circling over one particular bluff, so I pulled off of Highway 26 and set up my camera gear. Immediately, I noticed there was a chase going on in the sky. One of the adult eagles had a branch in its talons. It was being chased by another adult Bald Eagle.
|This chase went on for a while and eventually both birds went beyond the bluff where I could not see them. After photographing the birds for about 30 minutes or so, another adult was swooping down low in the tree line and grabbed a webworm nest and proceeded to fly away with it.|
|Again, a chase ensued and soon the Bald Eagle dropped the nest. Things returned to normal for awhile and then I noticed another adult male with a small stick in its bill.|
|Here's a photograph of the adult being chased by a juvenile attempting to grab the stick from the talons of the adult.|
Meanwhile out on the river, an adult was satisfying its hunger by devouring a coot. Coots are part of a Bald Eagles diet, and I can tell you from my walks through the woods in this area they enjoy eating coots! There are coot parts hanging in trees and littering the ground!
Photographed below, a juvenile is attempting to steal the adult's meal. (It was unsuccessful.) It is common for Bald Eagles to steal food from others. Benjamin Franklin didn't want the Bald Eagle to be the country's symbol for this reason. He found Bald Eagles to have poor moral character.
|Things got comical after awhile. Here's a photograph of an immature Bald Eagle flying around with a rather large branch. (I wondered if they might try to uproot a tree.) Literally, this bird caught my attention when I heard the snapping of branches.|
|Here's another adult Bald Eagle with a stick.|
|I was just about to leave today when I saw this adult approaching with a coot in its talons. The eagle flew right over a family of Tundra Swans. The swans didn't seem to be bothered by the Bald Eagle. (I also was amazed to see a Bald Eagle perched on a partially submerged branch out on the Mississippi River with coots swimming right by it. If I were a coot, I'd be afraid....very afraid.)|
|The eagle flew straight towards me and passed only a few hundred feet away. It carried off its prize to a tree on the side of the bluff. (The feet/legs are that of a coot.)|
NOTE: I have been contacted by a few people from the MN bird forum and they believe that the adults are practicing nest building and that the juveniles might chase the adults thinking that it is food. Whatever the case, it was fascinating watching these magnificent birds in flight.