Date: 4/24/19 12:58 pm From: Paul Sullivan <paultsullivan...> Subject: [obol] Bald Eagle olfactory prowess - further thoughts
I'm thinking about this question of a Bald Eagle being able to smell carrion. Further thoughts.
Could it be possible that the eagle had previous experience finding carrion at that location?
Could it be possible that the eagle followed the Turkey Vultures to the site?
I checked a few things out.
First of all, the vultures were not zeroing in on the parking lot this morning, they were just wandering about. The eagle came, and they gave it room. Then the eagle zeroed in on the parking lot.
The barbeque pit was not operating this morning.
I rechecked the dumpster and did not find it smelly (I don't have a very good nose.), but my companions assured me it was smelly. What I saw looked more like pizza and barbeque waste, not raw meat.
I asked the folks at the market, and they do indeed butcher meat. Attractant is present.
They said they had never seen an eagle or a vulture around the market, which points toward no previous experience on the part of the eagle.
So this points to the eagle finding the site on its own and focusing in on the dumpster.
From: Paul Sullivan [mailto:<paultsullivan...>] Sent: Wednesday, April 24, 2019 10:52 AM To: <tlove...>; <atowhee...>; roshana.shockley <roshana.shockley...> Subject: FW: Bald Eagle olfactory prowess
I'm acquainted with the experiments that show that Turkey Vultures have a keen sense of smell. They can sniff out a putrid carcass hidden under a brushpile or otherwise visually obscured. Their method of foraging is to get up on the wing, ride the thermals, and pick up scent of rotting flesh. They also watch each other, If one bird goes down on something fragrant, others follow to participate in the feast. That's a known story.
This morning I participated in the Wednesday morning bird walk at Linfield College, led by Tom Love. It is right in urban McMinnville. About 8:30 we saw one, two, three Turkey Vultures start to get up and moving over the area north of campus. Then an adult Bald Eagle joined in. It circled over the parking lot between El Rancho Market and St. Vincent's second-hand store. It circled in tighter circles as if it was honing in on something. Eventually it landed in a tall Douglas fir. The market has an outdoor barbeque setup where they cook meat. We went over to investigate and found an open dumpster behind the market with evidence of meat waste.
We all remarked that we had never seen an eagle right in town like that. I went home and checked my records for our Rummel Street address - only a couple blocks from Linfield - and found only 3 sightings of Bald Eagle seen from this yard. I'm sure they were mainly off over the Yamhill River at the edge of town, not over the town itself.
My question is this. Do eagles have a keen sense of smell like turkey vultures? The bird showed clear signs of circling, honing in on that parking lot.