Monday, April 26, 2010

Too Close and Not Close Enough

Out in the garden, bent over plucking some greens, I heard a winnowing sound that I'd barely identified as wings  -- in that split second wondering if it were angry bees and then a crow -- before I had to duck out from under two hurtling bald eagles. They zipped over the fence and flew off along Bear Kill Ridge on a courtship flight.

(Nobody knows who was killed -- the bear or whoever was hunting it)
About six eagles are hanging out in the area; three adults, three immatures (nothing yet from this year).  We call one of the youngsters "Bird-Killer" because she zeroes in on and takes ducks out of the water.  We think it's a female; she's big. A month ago she rose from the reef and flew toward where we stood on the beach, rising over sea-ducks feeding near the shore. 

She hovered, then suddenly dropped and powered along the waves, targeting a buffel-head drake.  The drake took off and flew for his life, Bird-Killer like a big dark jet behind him, her great wings scything through the air, closing the gap by the moment. There was a sudden explosion of spray as the drake dived underwater in full flight.  Bird-Killer overshot, then swung around.  She wafted up, watching for where he would resurface.  He came up, but no sooner than she'd dropped through the air, he dropped back under the surface. of the water.

You could almost see her shrug, before she headed off down toward the mouth of the Clallam Bay River.  She's evidently learned what she can take or not, and doesn't waste action. She's going to be a serious competitor once she gets her white head feathers.

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