Monday, January 23, 2012

Indian Ford Dam Bald Eagles, Bobby and Violet of Washington Square Park, Crow Bath in Freezing River, and the Belted Kingfisher

A juvenile Bald Eagle bides her time watching for prey after she has just disengaged her head from out of a sleeping tuck. I can completely understand why she'd decided a nap was the better part of valor.

Last night I'd gotten word that there were seven Bald Eagles currently fishing in the open water near the Indian Forge Dam on the Rock River in Wisconsin.

I couldn't wait to go take a look.

Unfortunately the weather was completely dismal. Temps in the teens and a frozen mist coming down which brought visibility to a near white out.

Well, if the Eagles can persevere I thought, so can I. Fortunately for them they are far better suited to the weather.

Something plunges into the rushing water of the river that has just come over the dam. In a moment the plungee, a male Belted Kingfisher is back on his perch waiting to spot another fish for the next course of his lunch.

(Correction: Thanks to Francois Portmann for correcting by inadvertent male Kingfisher into its proper sex, a female. Forget that avian males have the flashy colors, in Kingfishers it is the female who has the rusty orange belt second belt. The male has the gray belt only.)

See the juvenile on the left (note that suddenly there are three Eagles on the branch) is doing the beak in the air look that we most often see from young Red-tails on the nest or from a sitting formel when something passes far overhead.

In this case a family of American Crows has decided that mobbing Eagles is their Crow responsibility of the moment.

Suddenly the cawing and fly-bys over the Eagles stops and upon closer inspection of some large black things moving on the far edge of the river it appears that perhaps the Crows are having a conference in their quieter en familia Crow language.

It went on for awhile.

Crows have one language, quiet and melodious, they are technically song birds, for use in discussions with their extended family and another, their famous caw sequences, that we hear them using when signalling long distances to each other or mobbing unwanted company.

Eventually the largest Crow watches the other members of his family stride away.

After a few plops of his bottom in the water, Crow just went ahead and upended himself in the freezing stuff and then wallowed in it.

When Crow finished his bath, he gave me a look and then everyone in the Crow contingent went back to mobbing Bald Eagles.

I'm going back come sunrise to see if the visibility is any better.

Next up-- PonDove, Washington Square Park hawkwatcher and a moderator of the NYT Livestream Hawk Cam Chat Room, contributes to a Canadian Broadcasting Company podcast about people's interactions with wild animals in cities.

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