Bald Eagle in British Columbia

We landed in Vancouver, British Columbia in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. After sleeping a few hours, I took a quiet morning walk around Trout Lake in East Vancouver’s John Hendry Park.

The mountains were out.

On the little beach, American coots and a variety of ducks swam and foraged (more on them soon).

Gulls flew and fished.

Crows scavenged.

On one side of the lake, dogs and their owners gathered.

As I continued my circle round the lake, I heard crows calling with a sound I thought I recognized from my home crows in New York City’s Riverside Park. It was the sound that says, “Hawk on the premises! Hawk! Hawk! Hawk!”

So I looked up and around, and sure enough I spied a huge bird near the top of an enormously tall cottonwood tree with several crows nearby.

But wait a minute. That’s not just any bird.

It was a Bald eagle, being harassed by crows just like our Red-tailed hawks.

As is their wont, the crows were persistent in annoying the giant raptor. But while our Red-tails usually just put their heads down and look beleaguered under the siege of the crows, the Bald eagle seemed less tolerant. Whenever the crows got too close, the eagle would lunge at them and snap a little with its beak. This had little effect on the crows.  They flew above, below and behind, and the eagle kept a close eye on their whereabouts.

I watched for quite a long time. The crows showed no signs of tiring from their work, and the eagle showed no signs of moving. A couple of times, it seemed to fix me with its eyes.

As I finally turned to walk on, an elderly Native gentleman with his dog said “Majestic, isn’t it?” I agreed.  The man told me he sees the eagle in the park at least once a week, sometimes alone, sometimes with a second eagle.  He spoke of how habitat for other animals in the area is being lost, and expressed particular concern for local owls.

I walked on, then turned back.

Again I walked on, and again I turned.

Beautiful British Columbia, indeed.

Explore posts in the same categories: 2011, Birds, December, Hawks, In the City, Seasons, Wildlife/Natural History, Winter

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6 Comments on “Bald Eagle in British Columbia”

  1. John Says:

    It’s such a thrill to see an eagle, huh? The photos of the eagle in the tree by itself give a sense of how massive these birds are. I’ve seen crows attack eagles maybe five times. If an eagle got it by the beak or talons of course the crow wouldn’t stand a chance but I’ve never seen this happen. The eagle’s wingspan is 6 feet and the crow is much more maneuverable. Besides, they attack in pairs as they did here. When the eagle goes for one, that crow retreats and the other attacks. A pair of crows will escort an airborne eagle from the middle of a lake and make sure it moves on! Poets often use birds as a metaphor for freedom but apparently they need passports too.

  2. p hoey Says:

    The park looks great. I’ve never seen a bald eagle hunkered down,
    but I’ve seen them circling, and they are a terrifying sight. I wonder if a phalanx of even the bravest crows would take one on then…

  3. mthew Says:

    Raptors generally don’t bother spending much energy on such nuisances.

    Keep a lookout for ravens!

  4. Mr. Mantooth Says:

    How come the crows aren’t scared of the eagle? Can’t he take them down if he wishes to? Why do they mess with him?

    • He can’t take them down unless he is flying and stoops at them with his talons. As John comments above, he (or she) could certainly do damage if he caught them with his beak – and this eagle was snapping at the crows as they went by. But generally raptors use their talons to catch prey, which they fly at with great force. And from the crow perspective, I think they are messing with him (called “mobbing”) in an attempt to drive him away from their territory. Interestingly, you will often see smaller birds mobbing crows.

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