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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