Date: 11/11/17 3:26 pm From: Donald Sweig via va-bird <va-bird...> Subject: [Va-bird] Peregrine and Eagle Dispute @ Riverbend Park
Mary Kimm, Seth Honig, and I were walking upstream on the river trail at Riverbend this afternoon looking for ducks (we found about 40 FOS Bufflehead). A bit further upstream we decided to look at the Bald eagle nest, even though the birds shouldn't begin to nest for a couple of months yet. We were surprised to find an adult Bald eagle on the nest moving the sticks around.
We walked about 50 feet further up the trail to get a different look at the nest. At that point I saw a raptor perched with its back toward us at the top of a snag right over the nest. I identified it as an Peregrine falcon. It was just sitting on the snag quietly preening itself now and then. When it turned its head to preen we could clearly see the malar/mustache stripe on the side of the face. Meanwhile the eagle in the nest was staring up at the Peregrine, getting evermore agitated and continually calling. The Peregrine appeared to pay no attention. Eventually, either simultaneously or in quick succession, the Peregrine dived off the nest and flew down river, close to the surface of the water, made a quick pass or over the Bufflehead, and continued on downriver out of sight.
At the same time, or immediately afterwards, the Bald eagle flew out of the nest and landed on the snag exactly where the Peregrine had been. The eagle was still sitting on the snag when we left 10 minutes later, apparently defending its territory. One can only imagine how agitated the eagle would've been if there had been chicks in the nest at the time. We looked for, but did not find, the Peregrine again.
Bald eagles are fairly seen frequently at Riverbend and elsewhere along this section of the Potomac because, of course, they nest there. However, I have never before seen a perched Peregrine falcon anywhere near where it was perched this afternoon. I assume it may have been one of the birds from the nest underneath the American Legion Bridge.
My friend got some photos including one of the Peregrine diving off the nest. From what we could/can see in that photo (it shows all of the right leg, and the lower part of the left leg) there were no bands on the bird. A nice little adventure for a winter afternoon. Donald Sweig Falls Church, Virginia