Tuesday, January 28, 2014
The Prairie Du Sac Eagle Congregation and Juvenile Games
The weather has been in the minus zero range on and off for some time in Wisconsin. A giant drag to live with in many ways, a damp finger can freeze to the car door in no time but it also makes for optimum eagle viewing as many of the water ways are frozen over. The eagles then congregate where the rivers are still open to do their fishing.
Any number of small towns that have open water, often around dams or power plants, during the frigid days January, February and early March now have what they call Eagle Days for one weekend a year. The town high school opens its doors, the ladies do a giant bake sale, the local rehabbers bring in their education birds and do talks, as do various and sundry raptor experts and local artists sell their eagle art, ranging from earrings to pots to paintings.
It all tends to be very earnest, sweet, and quite fun.
Therefore when I read the rules concerning eagle watching in Prarie du Sac, it all seemed a touch on the draconian side. They distribute a map which appears to cover the entire area with places in which no one is allowed. I wondered just how one is supposed to see an eagle when the areas along the river except for a few little dots, all appear to be forbidden. And while in those dots one mustn't leave one's car.
OK, I admit it, I was more than a little grumpy from sleep deprivation. But I also had to admit that sometimes people, uneducated in the ways of birds can be total dopes, and yes it's minus 10 out there and if idiotic people keep scaring the eagles, it is a definite waste of the bird's energy.
Viewing area 5, one of the little dots, was next to the dam and I figured even if I couldn't leave the car, nor get much chance to take photos, I should be able to see something.
I need not have worried because when I pulled into the paved area on the map's speck five.
THERE WERE EAGLES EVERYWHERE...
Including a pair sitting in a tree about 15 feet away. Speck 5, was the eagle's prime fishing spot below the dam.
These two sat patiently watching the Wisconsin River below and appeared to be a pair. I'm not sure how riveted Bald Eagle pairs are to each at this time of year but these two appeared downright chummy.
The female than took off and went for a soar back and forth above the river below.
There she goes. Also note the eagle standing on the ice left watching the raft of water fowl. Though Bald Eagles eat mostly fish they don't mind a duck one bit if they can get them. I then looked further to the right. Oh my.
It looked a little like this evergreen had sprouted very large fruit.
Documentation alert: Yes this is a very bad photograph but it is a set up for what happens next. The juvenile eagle with her wings closed has been standing there in the shallow water when another juvenile comes in very low struggling a bit to stay airborne with something and nearly knocks the first bird over.
Then the juvie with prey does this kind of mock kill happy dance as left juvenile looks on.
By the way I can't decide what the prey is. Part of a water bird, something fishy, someone's left overs?
The happy dance didn't get a rise out of left bird, right bird waits.
Left bird looks down. Wow, what's that? Right bird waits.
Left bird does a quick turn and starts to fly at right bird. Right bird crouches...
...grabs the prey and starts to take off.
The chase is on, or appeared to be but the second eagle juvenile instead of continuing the chase...
...hops up and down on the rock a few times reminiscent of the way young Red-tails "kill" inanimate objects on occasion. This young eagle appears to be a yearling. The other may be 2 as it appeared to have more white feathers.
This is when I began to hear the crows go totally wild.
More eagle antics coming soon.
In the meantime, by way of Robin of Illinois, cat versus mailman---