Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Butchies' Mom - Bald Eagle Details & Feeding

 "Somebody please schedule a mani-pedi!"
Last evening, this Bald eagle swooped in landing on the rocks just in front of our house. It was a great beast of a bird. I'm guessing she is the mother of The Butchie Boys. I was in my bathrobe, blissfully drinking a glass of wine as supper was cooking. The sweet scents of cooking Sock-eye salmon glazed with vinaigrette and mushrooms wafted around my house. I use apple cider vinegar and Dijon for this, of course with EVOE as the emulsifier. I like apple cider vinegar for dark meat fish as it's sweeter but not overpowering as balsamic can be. Oh, but I have digressed.
     It was not the aroma of broiling Sock-eye that brought in the eagle; it was a putrefying seal pup carcass. When the eagle yanked it out of the rocks, the flies rose enmasse and so did the stench. It was the kind of rank odor that permeates everything as only particulate oils can do. In a word - YUCKY! Birds do not have olfactory receptors, so it isn't actually the smell that has attracted them (a juvenile just swooped in as I'm writing this), it's sight. The carcass is jammed tightly into the rocks, so wasn't visible until Mom yanked it out last night. I can only guess that it is masses of flies that they can see, which indicates a goodly chunk of something decomposing. I myself follow flies when I want to find a dead animal.
     The usual photographs that one sees of eagles are in flight. I've taken more than my fair share of those shots, too. But, I thought I'd give you something a little different - details and repulsive behavior. Aren't those talons out of this world? Somebody needs a manicure! My daughter once had an iguana that was around three and a half feet long. It also had some helacious nails. My daughter painted them hot pink. The iguana did not seem to mind, in fact, it started some courtship behaviors with itself while looking in a mirror shortly afterward.
     After Mom worked on the carcass for about an hour, she went to the water and tidied up. She dipped her beak into salt water and drank a few slurps. Then she wiped her beak a couple of times across the grass and sharpened her beak on the rocks before taking off.
     I'm sure you're thinking "Wow! What luck to live in a place where that's the dinner theater entertainment!" True enough. But bear in mind, that pile of funky carrion is close enough that it might as well be in my living room and sitting poolside is out for a couple of days.

Scraping her beak to clean it off and sharpen it on the rocks like a giant honing stone

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  1. The next time a guest drops by for supper tell them you will provide the appertizer!! ;}
    Lucky you to get a real good look at the possible Mom of the Butchie Boys...thse little stinkers!!!

  2. I woulod not want to get anywhere near those feet! Amazing shots!

    Cheers, Seumus

  3. least Madame Eagle practices good hygiene after her meal! Your lens is amazing to get such unbelievable close-up photos...the photographer is amazing, too!

  4. AWESOME! Its not very often you get to look DOWN at an Eagle either :)

  5. Begs the question: "what color polish would she choose?" Carrion Chartreuse? What a great visual poem you created for all of us. And even kind of scratch-and-sniff (anyone remember John Waters?) The photos were truly amazing. And you set the scene so beautifully. I was right there with you. Thanks so much.

  6. Awesome article Robin! The photos (as usual) are spectacular! I know how bad a dead mouse smells- and once one of my Black labs rolled in a deal seal at Head Beach in the dead of winter- we had to drive home gagging. Hopefully there will be a Moon tide that will take it away......
    Ms. Boo

  7. sharon f in west kJuly 23, 2010 at 8:46 AM

    Look at it this way-at least you got to eat the salmon instead of the seal....

  8. Hello all and thank you for the wonderful comments! During the big electrical storm we just had my modem was fried, so I'm just now back on line. You guys rock!

  9. Great photos, how lucky you are to see these birds up close and personal. The shot of the eagle's talons reminds me that there are indeed dinosaurs among us still. Tyrannosaurus?

  10. Thanks, Ablonde. Lucky indeed I am.

  11. Never have I seen such gorgeous photos of eagles.


  12. Wow! What a compliment that is! And I know i'm up against stiff competition out there in Cyberland, too.

  13. Fabulous! The head is magnificent, but I really like the feet.

  14. So, let's see: we've got a couple of votes for feet over head.....