Place Where You Live:

Top Gun birds in Paradise

Bald Eagles talons locked, falling fast

June 14, 2010

Sunrise 4:32 am, sunset 11:24 pm, length of day 18 hours, 51 minutes; tomorrow will be 1 minutes and 7 seconds longer. Summer Solstice is only a week away!

Weather: Rain has been forecast just about every day this past week, as one spectacular sunny jaw dropper follows another. But today is indeed cloudy with temps in the low 50s; they might be right this time. A lovely white fireworks of crab-apple, apple, Mt Ash, and Mayday tree blossoms promise a bountiful crop for birds this fall. Lilacs are just starting to bloom; watch for rufous hummingbirds or their tiny mimic, the splendid sphinx moth, enjoying the nectar.

June 13: Ten BALD EAGLES stood up to their bellies in a small stream at the head of the bay, combat fishing just like the chest-wader, rod-flailing humans as three-year old red salmon returned from their ocean adventures. One eagle, impatient with the wait, harassed a passing ARCTIC TERN, another elite flyer, forcing it to drop a very small fish. The bully caught it midair and flew off with the prize.

A bit later, two eagles stroked powerfully up into the blue sky in tight formation. When the smaller of the pair, the male, dropped onto the female, she instantaneously flipped upside down and their talons briefly locked. Just as swiftly but still falling, they released and resumed their course. This stunning aerialist feat repeated several times before they descended back to earth. I will remember this impressive show whenever I see eagles lounging in a spruce; maybe they just finished performing or are resting up for the next Top Gun flight!

Three RAVENS, not to be outdone, then did the same trick, though the flipper had food and the flipees wanted it. It may be rare that the bird that actually catches the food gets to eat it.

Clouds of gulls, mostly BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKES, GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS,  and MEW GULLS feast along the shoreline, frequently stirred up by yet another BALD EAGLE or RAVEN.

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Sporadic Bird Report reporter
Seward, Alaska