Bald Eagle cruise/hover fishing

Linda Barnes/Ed Swan swanbarn at
Tue Jan 6 12:17:42 PST 2004

On the Vashon CBC on Sunday a Bald Eagle gave us an entertaining spectacle.
The wind was cold, fierce and steady out of the north down Colvos Passage as
we were scanning the gulls. The began to ball up going after some fish and
were joined by some DC Cormorants, RB Mergansers and a murre. An adult Bald
Eagle noted the activity and launched itself from the shore scaring off the
merganser and unnerving the gulls a bit. But it just joined the gull flock
which had been maintaining a constant speed in order to be able to stay in
place against the wind.

Soon there was this group of gulls with a Bald Eagle in the center and all of
them fishing. The Bald Eagle dove in and grabbed and ate a fish. After that,
it didn't dive in as I have usually seen them and Ospreys do. Instead it flew
at a steady speed a short distance over the water and occaisionally dipped
lower and dropped its talons down grabbing a 4-6" fish in each. It would then
bite a fish out of one talon, chew it up quickly and then take the fish from
the other talon. It did this for several minutes catching and eating a number
of fish while maintaining steady flight, moving smoothly like some kind of

Our owling in the morning before dawn was the worst ever with only one Barred
Owl. Numbers seemed lower for most birds but we saw many more Red-breasted
Sapsuckers and Hermit Thrushes than usual. Another highlight for me was a
female kestral, the first for the Vashon CBC and only the second I have seen in
the last four years on the island.

Ed Swan
Vashon Island

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