[Tweeters] Eagle catches a Snow Goose

SUSAN YATES sueayates at msn.com
Mon Oct 29 22:36:25 PDT 2007

Hello Tweeters,

Day of the Dead was the theme of a church service ... and birding .... in
the Skagit Valley this past Sunday. After the service, some friends and I
(including Fran Wood, female) found several purple finches in the berried
trees of the Skagit Wildlife Area Headquarters. Peace and tweets were
obscured by background rifle shots from hunters performing their own day of
the dead rituals.

Further west, on the flat farm fields, another type of predator had its way.
The fields were blanketed with snow geese happily probing for food in the
grass and soil. A mature bald eagle approached and, immediately, the flock
of geese lifted in a wheeling, tilting flurry of white. Through my
binoculars, the eagle seemed to be flying through the flock, a black steady
presence amidst a whirling cloud of white, screaming geese. A B-1 bomber in

The flock of geese swarmed left, right, forward, away and the eagle
repeatedly banked and headed relentlessly toward them. Then the eagle was
low, flying level just above the field and gaining on a solitary goose just
ahead. The eagle struck; the goose fell then rose again. Across the field
the two continued the race as we called out "the eagle is gaining" then,
"the goose is pulling ahead" as the goose climbed and mixed safely back into
the flock.

The next low pass of eagle and goose had different results. This time the
eagle gained and struck the goose in flight. On the ground, the eagle stood
on top of the struggling prey as they traded bites at one another. It was
the eagle who, with blood on his beak, won that chase. The flock of geese
seemed to immediately drop back to the field and resume their probing.

A juvenile Peregrine watched all from the top of a near-by tree.

It was a treat to see the magnificent talents of a solo predator and the
evasive power of the flock. One of us, a therapist and feminist, was not so
taken by this performance and suggested she would like to train the Snow
Geese to turn and attack, not flee, from an aggressor.

A fine day to be with friends thinking about death and watching the birds.

Sue Yates

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