I’d heard someone had dumped deer carcasses in a field south of the city and it was drawing eagles to feed on the remains. I headed in that direction early Saturday morning to see for myself.
I found the field easily and immediately spotted an eagle intently watching something in the direction of the carcasses. I wasn’t sure if the eagle was a male or female since they are so similar in appearance. Regardless, it was a majestic-looking bird of prey.
The eagle suddenly raised its massive wings, as if preparing for flight.
It lifted off and headed for the pile of deer carcasses. I guessed it was ready to feed off the deer meat. Eagles subsist mainly on fish, which it snatches from the water with its talons. But Eagles are very opportunistic feeders and will feed off whatever is available when they are away from the water.
I quickly saw why the eagle had taken off. A juvenile eagle, probably in its second year, was approaching the deer carcasses. The plumage of a juvenile eagle is typically dark brown with white streaking until it reaches maturity, typically in its fifth year.
The adult eagle quickly chased the juvenile away from the carcasses.
The immature eagle persisted, however, and the adult eagle continued to kick the juvenile off the deer carcasses. I had to wonder if these interactions were between the parent and the child.
The young eagle finally learned its place and the adult went in to feed.
Forehead bloodied, the eagle looked right at me. Satisfied?
While all the sparing was going on between the adult and the juvenile, a third eagle sat patiently watching the spectacle. Was this the eagle’s mate? I wondered because eagles tend to mate for life unless one of the pair dies.
The third eagle finally took off and approached the feeding site. It landed and joined the first eagle in feeding without a fight.
What an experience this was to watch! Photography doesn’t get much better than this.