Skip to comments.Nature's Supercurious Brutality
Posted on 02/07/2004 4:25:52 PM PST by WaterDragon
A long day got longer as we headed north on the Point Reyes Peninsula. We all suffered from scope-eye, that strange affliction known to birders and photographers who spend inordinate amounts of time staring with one eye through a spotting scope or viewfinder.
Afternoon birding can be slow, but we hoped a visit to Teal Pond would perk things up a bit. Maybe we would see Blue-winged Teal loafing at the waters edge or Wilsons Snipe probing the muddy shoreline....(snip)
We instantly pulled off the paved road and fixed our eyes on this scene of utter chaos in the adjacent pasture.
Clouds of pure white feathers momentarily obscured the spectacle, but we knew immediately we had encountered the taking of some avian prey by two massive Golden Eagles.
A distinctive cacophony and the agricultural setting helped paint the picture. These giant, formidable predators, which normally take rabbits and other medium-sized mammals, had hit the jackpot: a flock of unwary chickens.
One of the eagles soon flew off. We aged this individual as an immature bird by its white basal tail band and large white patches in the center of the wings. This bird launched empty-taloned from the emerald carpet, appearing to have failed in its effort to secure an easy meal.
By now most of the chickens had reached their asylum, a half-cylindrical hut that served as their coop in the center of the pasture. Despite its flimsy appearance, the hut successfully served one of its primary purposes, preventing the entry of predators.
Like any prey species, the chickens had to weigh the daily risk of death with the improved foraging away from their shelter.
A single white rooster stood outside the entrance to the coop watching the remaining eagle just a few feet away. Anyone who has raised chickens knows that roosters can be very effective protectors of their flocks.
This time, however, he had failed, as the predator tightly clutched one of his hens in its talons.
Most raptors, or birds of prey, are efficiency-driven opportunistic hunters. Due to its large size, the Golden Eagle in particular benefits by focussing its hunting efforts on sick, weak or inattentive prey.
While a North American Golden Eagles preferred prey species may be small mammals, such as rabbits or marmots, the specie is known to predate upon game birds in Europe, such as partridge and grouse (Pfeffer 1985).
Wild game birds likely have a leg up on domestic chickens in their ability to defend against predation. A curious Golden Eagle may interpret a large flock of white chickens feeding in a bright green pasture as a clear invitation.
The remaining eagle, an adult female, attempted to fly away with its prey. Encumbered by the extra weight, the bird succeeded in more of a one-legged hobble, with the chicken being held in the opposite talon.
Once the eagle was about 30 feet from the initial point of contact, she decided the pasture would be an acceptable place to consume her meal. For a few minutes, white feathers again flew against the Pacific Ocean background as the eagle furiously plucked the chicken to expose its nutritious flesh.
Considerable force is required for such an act, even when the bird is placed in boiling water first, as is suggested when preparing chickens for human consumption on the farm. The eagle easily exerted such force.
By now, our excitement during the initial attack had subdued and we enjoyed observing the ongoing process of prey preparation. We immersed ourselves in our nature experience.
Suddenly, the eagle shifted its position, and the emboldened chicken escaped! After only a few feet of desperate running, the eagle bounced and again engaged the death grip.
Amidst our gasping all we could think about was the experience of being plucked alive. We shared some empathy for the chicken....(snip)
(Excerpt) Read more at oregonmag.com ...
My parents had one when I was two years old that tried to kill me every time it caught me ungarded.
...and some as sacrament to their religion beliefs, like N.O.W. does. :/
Isn't the term "French chicken" redundant?
A few years back, a story came out about the woman in (I think it was) Ohio with the "RU486" license plate.
There was a photo in the newspaper of the plate, and, escaping notice by most, there was a bumper sticker saying "Abortion - a woman's rite".
Not "right" - "rite".
Not "right" - "rite"... I stand corrected
Actually, I was emphasizing this was the spelling on the bumper sticker. n ;-)
Now can any of you identify these species?
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