By Harry Fuller, Klamath Bird Observatory Board President
Humans watch horror movies about fictional creatures that hunt us. For ducks, such creatures are real.
Yesterday, there were 40 ducks and coots paddling around the south end of Emigrant Lake. There was a lone Bald Eagle. But the scene was more complex than a simple scorecard. Earlier this week, some birders and I had seen a Ring-billed Gull carrying around a coot wing in its beak: a leftover from an earlier eagle meal.
This series shows the adult eagle diving at the coot and duck flock, with the birds tightly grouped. The coots’ defense was to dive beneath the surface, rather than try to swim away on the surface or fly away. The hunting Bald Eagle made a more than a dozen unsuccessful sorties; each time the coots disappeared into the murky water before the eagle could strike.
The eagle didn’t give up, however. The final sortie was successful and the eagle eventually settled down for lunch on the shore, duck in its talons.