Over the past several weeks, MM and his partner, the young sub-adult, have been seen mating at least five times, as observed by myself and neighbors. One neighbor commented, “they must be newlyweds.” In all matings observed, MM has assumed the dominant position so we think he must be the male. We hope the love birds are making lots of baby eaglets although, its not entirely clear whether or not a sub-adult is mature enough to produce eggs.
In thinking about tiny Piping Plovers and majestic Bald Eagles, it’s inspiring to know that conservation success measures, such as those taken to bring the Bald Eagle back from near extinction, are tremendously meaningful and impactful.
The below graph of Bald Eagle breeding pairs speaks a thousand words –
A joy, and surprise, to see MM swooping across the marsh, although he wasn’t too happy. A murder of Crows and one Osprey were hot on his trail. MM landed for a brief second, only about twenty feet from where I was standing. I had just arrived and struggled to get may camera out quickly, but did catch the tail end of the action. How beautiful to see his majestic wingspan. You can see his leg bands in the last few frames.
Perhaps MM simply did not want to be annoyed and that is why he flew off. Bald Eagles are very powerful and it was just last spring that either MM, or his mate, drowned a nesting Osprey.
from Avian Report – Female bald eagles have longer wingspans than males
In most birds, males are larger than females, but in most birds of prey is the opposite. The female bald eagle is larger and has a longer wingspan than the male.
Ornithologists suggest that such differences in size and wingspan allow male and female eagles to hunt prey of different sizes and avoid competition over prey of the same size.
Another line of thought suggests that females are larger to protect their eggs and chicks from larger predators and aggressive bald eagle males that may attack their chicks and female eagles.
The literature indicates that the bald eagle’s wingspan ranges between 5.11” feet and 7.7” feet. The lower end indicates the smallest males, while the upper end refers to the largest females in the range. However, most males have a wingspan of 6.4” while most females have a wingspan of 7.2” feet.
Mass Wildlife reports that there are over 70 active Bale Eagle nests in Massachusetts, a record! Now there is a brand new nest in Barnstable. The last reported Bald Eagle nest was seen on Cape Cod in Sandwich, in 1905.
Saturday afternoon a captivating young Bald Eagle swooped onto the scene with a fresh catch held tightly in its talons. He was fairly far off in the distance and I couldn’t quite capture what exactly he was eating.
It didn’t take long for the eagle to devour the little creature and after dining, he circled around the pond several times before landing in a nearby tree. I’ve never been so close to an eagle and it was a gift to see, really just gorgeous. It’s feathers were richly mottled in shades of chocolate brown, with contrasting white tips. Despite its youth, you could see the majesty and strength in its wings when soaring overhead.
The eagle perched in the branches for a few moments, completely ignoring the squwacky crows that were gathering, before heading out towards sea.
There have been numerous reports of Bald Eagles in the area. Earlier in the day, a passerby told me she had seen a juvenile Bald Eagle with a crow in its clutches. Although I don’t have a side-by-side comparison, the young Bald Eagle’s talons appeared enormous, even larger than a Snowy or Great Horned Owl’s talons.
Bald Eagles have repopulated the 48 contiguous states, Alaska, Canada, and northern Mexico. Their recovery over the past several decades is largely due to the ban on DDT (yet another deadly dangerous poisonous insecticide manufactured by Monsanto). Bald Eagles mate for life and they are breeding in the area. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to see a nest on Cape Ann!
I believe this to be a second or third hatch year juvenile Bald Eagle. You can tell by the broad brown band on its face, the iris is transitioning from amber to yellow, and because the beak is beginning to turn yellow.
Click on any of the photos in the gallery above to see a full-sized slideshow.
Fourth hatch year Bald Eagle -note the remaining brown feathers around the face.
Mature Bald Eagle (images courtesy wiki commons media).
For the past week or so there has been a remarkably tolerant Snowy Owl feeding and perching on the rocks at Atlantic Road. Perhaps she (or he) is the same Snowy that has been noticed on the backshore over the course of the past month. I write tolerant because this Snowy was perched about fifteen feet from the sidewalk and neither traffic nor birdwatchers seemed to faze her much. As word has gotten out, her fan club has grown, so much so that there was a bit of a traffic jam today. Every several hours I stopped by to check on her whereabouts. At 2:00 today, she had only moved about a foot from where she was at daybreak. By sundown, she had flown up onto the rooftops of an Atlantic Road resident. Many thanks to Kate for all her text alerts letting me know when the Snowy was on the backshore!
Early morning and the Snowies face and talons were bloodstained, which is a very positive sign that she is feeding well. Snowy Owls wintering over in our region eat rabbits, rodents (lots of rats), songbirds, and sea ducks. Being good stewards of the Snowies means not applying rat poison around your home or business. There are several methods equally as efficient in killing rats as rat poison. When a bird of prey such as a Peregrine Falcon, Snowy Owl, Red-tailed Hawk, or Bald Eagle ingests a rat that has eaten rat poison, the raptor becomes sick and will usually die.
The Snowy spent the better part of the day mostly dozing, preening, cleaning her talons, and puffing her feathers for warmth. At one point she pushed her face into a snow patch but I couldn’t tell if it was to drink or to wash.
For a moment the Snowy sat bolt upright from a loud bang heard in the distance, but generally, she was a satiated and sleepy owl.