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K. Cowcill, Ontario

When I lived in BC my friend and I drove to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary to do some birding. Near the entrance we stopped to look at ducks on the river that suddenly began to take flight. We thought they were flying from us till we noticed an adult Bald Eagle was swooping in. He flew down through the trees and with one leg outstretched, grabbed and killed a Mallard, and then used the other leg to land on a stump in the river. We had our binoculars up and were watching him feed when there was a blur of motion and the eagle disappeared. We looked up from our binoculars to see that a second Bald Eagle had flown in and knocked the feeding eagle off his stump and into the water. The eagle in the water rowed its way to the stump, shook itself and took off leaving the duck behind. It was pursued by a third eagle along the river, and as they flew out over the field the second eagle joined the third to give chase. The feeding eagle flew across the farmer’s field and the chasing pair let it go as it disappeared behind the trees. We continued to sit where we were talking excitedly about the encounter while watching the circling pair who had chased the first eagle away. It was then we noticed the original (we assume) Bald Eagle flying in from the left just a few feet above the surface of the river moving quite fast for such a big bird (I didn’t know they could move that fast). It flew to the stump with the dead duck on it and as it zipped over the stump it grabbed the duck, and kept flying up the river with hardly a missed wing-beat. It had come in quite low probably taking advantage of the shrub cover to hide it from the other eagles, and after it grabbed its meal, it stayed quite low till it finally veered away from the river and set out across another field in the opposite direction of where we could still see the other two eagles circling. What a sneaky but clever eagle. Once it had been chased over the trees it must have done a 90 degree turn and flown low hidden behind the trees, then turned again to fly low along the ditch, and turned 90 degrees again once it hit the river. It wasn’t going to leave its meal behind.

K. Cowcill