Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Marauding Eagle

Yesterday evening Bill and I were standing under the flowering European Bird cherry in our backyard, when our attention was drawn to a cacophony of cawing overhead. I ran out into the middle of the yard to get a better look, just in time to see dozens of crows chasing a bald eagle. The eagle was flying erratically, trying to avoid the swooping and diving crows.

Flocks of crows chase away the marauding eagle.

I've observed groups of birds ganging up on bald eagles before. Last year a pair of them looking to expand their hunting territory found their way into our Kirkland neighborhood. Hundreds of smaller birds -- chickadees, wrens, finches, sparrows, jays -- surrounded my neighbor's cedar tree, where the two predators had perched, and their urgent calls warned all creatures in the area to be on guard. The eagles eventually left in discouragement, as surprise is of the essence in their quest for dinner.

I'd never before seen crows chasing a bald eagle, though. In our new Ballard neighborhood, there's a pair of crows for roughly every 20 house lots. They nest near the tops of the tallest trees, and their nestlings have been hatching out lately, tempting the local eagles to stop by for a quick bite, I imagine. Although the crows jealously guard their 20-lot territories to keep other crows out, they apparently quickly unite to chase off a common threat, in a way quite familiar to we humans.

If you've been following my posts about Bertram and Corvina, my "pet" crows, you can probably guess how anxious I was to know whether their nest had been victimized. I craned my neck to look up at it, but of course could see nothing to set my mind at ease as the crowd of crows and eagle disappeared in the distance. Later, as Bill and I were returning to the house from our evening walk, though, I heard some "happy noises" coming from the direction of their treetop nest. Crows have their private family talk, which sounds very different from their caws, and that's what I heard. I immediately felt better.

I was doubly relieved because I hadn't heard that sound for a couple of months, not since Bertram and Corvina first started nesting. It seems that now all of the hard work of nest-building and egg-sitting is over, the crows are able to settle in and begin enjoying their little family. That's how I imagine it anyway.

Bert, Corvina, and ... hmmm, I wonder what their names are??

My brother-in-law just sent me this link to the Lake Washington Eagle Webcam. You can watch the mother feeding her babies, hopefully not with one of Bertram and Corvina's babies, though.
Submit this post:

Crows gang up on an eagle who was attempting to pilfer their nestlings.

submit to reddit

No comments: