Date: 6/12/19 1:28 pm From: Daniel R Froehlich <danielfroehlich...> Subject: [Tweeters] Subject: Bald eagle crashes into Puget Sound
Martha & Tweeters, I've seen an adult Bald Eagle so waterlogged in Puget Sound that it swam ashore using its wings as paddles after failing to take off. It took over 20 minutes and I was impressed that it didn't tire from hypothermia, as a human might in December Puget Sound water temperatures; it was buoyant, so maybe it mostly managed to keep the water off its skin. I thought it might have ended up in the water after a fish-dive gone awry. But perhaps I was seeing the aftermath of a story more like Martha's...
Territoriality for optimal reusable/traditional nest sites--like those for many raptors on cliff promontories or large stick nests constructed over many years near the best foraging areas--may warrant gladiator-like life-or-death battles. I first witnessed such a contest at the Farallon Islands in central California where two pairs of Peregrines kept at each other for the entire duration of our circumnavigation of the islets with spectacular diving and strafing and screaming, occasionally all four in an aerial scrum. The whole thing terminated stunningly when the two males, locked together in death-vise grips, literally dropped into the 20' heaving ocean right in front of us, were smothered by the churning waves and never came up again that we saw... a tough sell for the conservation-oriented clientele on the Point Reyes Bird Observatory's special funders' tour we were on!
That was before I could invoke the all-or-nothing evolutionary value that such a nest-site may represent to breeding pairs: i.e., ensured breeding success at that particular nest-site vs. a higher risk of failure at others due to a mix of factors such as: -- less reliable or harder-to-catch food items, -- higher-density occupation by other pairs competing for that food, -- or the challenge of keeping other pairs away from nesting cliffs or food-territory.
The Farallons, breeding home for a fabulous bounty of peregrine-sized prey and their young clumsy offspring, offer a rich diet for a discerning Peregrine palate. And once you're the couple that controls the cliffs, you definitely have an edge in keeping others away, since they can only challenge your ownership after a 20-mile unforgiving ocean-crossing. The battle we witnessed was interesting since it involved the coordinated effort of an apparently usurping pair rather than just an individual male or female. Of course I can't be sure about the full story: Did they really set out from the mainland to make the play? Or had two pairs settled on the islets late in winter and we just happened by on the day they decided they could no longer tolerate their neighbors? The early spring timing and pairwise struggle suggests that it wasn't just parents harassing their offspring to disperse from their natal territory...
Natural history interpretation is always such a rich diet for discerning mental palates... Keep up the good observations, food for thought!
Best, Dan Froehlich Poulsbo, WA
---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: Martha Jordan <mj.cygnus...> To: Tweeters <tweeters...> Cc: Bcc: Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2019 10:38:40 -0700 Subject: [Tweeters] Bald eagle crashes into Puget Sound Today while riding on the Edmonds-Kingston ferry (about 1/4 mile offshore heading west) my friend witnessed two bald eagles have an aerial contact scuffle. Both were spinning and flapping. A third bald eagle came by and strafed the fighting duo. One of the scufflers let go and fell into the water from about 30 feet up. The other two eagles took off. As she watched, the now water logged eagle took more than a minute or so before it was able to get up enough energy to once again become airborne. She was not sure it was going to make it as it was struggling in the water as the ferry moved along. Have any of you seen this behavior off shore before? I know they fight and can drop into the water or crash on land. Thankfully the eagle was able to get off the water and fly.