More About Nature from Fakename’s Back Yard

I’ve mentioned before that just about every morning, the little singing birds will go deathly silent, and you can hear a hawk calling from a treetop.  In my case, it has to be either a red-shouldered hawk or a Cooper’s hawk.  The problem is, they don’t sound quite right.  I’ve listened to their calls on Cornell’s website, and my “hawk” doesn’t sound remotely like either of them.  That’s because it isn’t a hawk, it’s an eagle. 

And how do I know this?  TV.  (See, TV is good for something after all.)  Last weekend I watched an episode of “Human Planet” on The Discovery Channel.  This particular episode was about the Inuit.  (Each episode is about how humans survive the most inhospitable places on Earth.)  And this episode is not about “assimilated” Inuit, but about those who still live and hunt in a traditional way.  A lot of the program focused on diet, and was fairly repellent to those of us with urbanized sensitivities.  Their diet is all meat, and it’s raw.  This of course makes perfect sense.  Wood for a cooking fire, and fruits and vegetables, are non-existent in the Arctic. 

But one of the things they do is train eagles for hunting.  Who ever knew you could train an eagle?  So there was a scene where an eagle is sitting on a guy’s arm, and it’s calling.  It was like instant recognition.  THAT is the sound I’ve been hearing.  A hawk’s cry is very harsh and rough.  This was more like a chirping sound, more melodic. 

I’ve known there are eagles in my neighborhood, but I’ve always totally dismissed them as the source of the sound.  For one thing,  I’ve never known eagles to sit in trees and wait for prey.  From what I always understood and have seen, they fly amazingly high, get a panoramic view, and zero in on a target with uncanny accuracy from what seems like an impossible height.  But on the other hand, they do nest in trees.  There probably isn’t an eagle Rule that says, “Thou art permitted to sleep in a tree, but shalt not catch dinner from there.”  Also, eagles mostly seem to like small furry creatures, like rabbits and squirrels, rather than birds, and the main attraction in my back yard is the birdfeeder.  However, there is no shortage of rabbits and squirrels either. 

So there is no doubt in my mind that it’s an eagle.  I have yet to be able to spot it, but I know it’s there.  Like I say about National Geographic and the Discovery Channel…Day One:  Go Eagle!  Get that rabbit!  Day Two:  Run, little rabbit, run! 

While I may not have gotten it until now, the birds, the squirrels, and probably the rabbits certainly did.  Although I doubt they care what species it is–to them, it’s all death from the sky.

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9 responses to “More About Nature from Fakename’s Back Yard

  1. The raptor center at Calloway Gardens had an eagle several of the years we went down for our anniversary. It had a beak deformity and could not survive in the wild. However the handlers had taught it to “hunt” a lure and always showed it as part of the raptor show. We saw it grow from juvenile into that lovely bald-headed plumage.

    The last time we saw the show, the now-adult eagle left its perch, unsignaled and not as part of the show, and attempted to catch a fish from the lake just behind. Like many hunts, it was unsuccessful but the spectators were enthralled. The handler, who had been doing his spiel, seeing the audience focused behind him and gasping, looked back in time to see the eagle returning to its perch and the spreading ripples in the lake. “Did he just try to catch a fish?” Audience: YES! “We’ve been trying to teach him that for years!”

    Quite a magical moment.

  2. Cool story, Fakesister! Do you suppose he was unsuccessful because of his beak deformity? Or was it just one of those days where you win some, lose some?
    Also, do you agree with why I thought it couldn’t possibly be an eagle?

  3. Eagles catch fish with their talons, much like ospreys do so I think it was just that most attempts end with no fish. Note that he left the perch to go fish … so from my really teeny sample of one, no, I don’t think your reasoning holds up.

  4. I read up some since that last comment, and indeed, they do hunt from perches. And I wouldn’t care if it was the first example of them doing so…it is definitely an eagle. Also I read that only 1 in 18 attacks is successful–so you’re right. It’s more like win some, lose a lot more 🙂
    Also I read that if they hook a fish that’s too heavy for them and don’t let go, they will sometimes be dragged under water. Then they will let go, but may drown if it’s too far to swim to shore or if the water is too cold and they succumb to hypothermia. Did you catch the part about swimming? Yes, eagles can swim, using their wings! That is amazing! They can’t fly out of the water though, so they have to get to land first.

  5. In one of the NHRA mini-bios shown last year, the driver was out fishing and they came across an eagle swimming. Being smarter than some, they tagged along, filming, until it made it to an island and climbed out to dry. They were prepared to toss a blanket over it and haul it aboard if it looked like drowning but were just as happy they didn’t need to!

  6. If you have a small dog, better keep it indoors during the day….

  7. I don’t really have a small enough dog to worry…I read that their limit for picking things up and carrying them off is about 4 pounds. The smaller of my two dogs weighs 25. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t do serious, maybe even fatal damage, to either of the two dogs. Because I also read that depending on the environment , they hunt ducks, reindeer, and mountain goats. They really do prefer small furry things, but will eat anything (as would we all, if hungry enough). And if they can cause enough damage for a large animal to die, they will still eat it, because they do eat carrion.
    And speaking of eating anything, I was watching an old episode of CSI in the last couple of weeks in which balut was featured.

  8. > CSI in the last couple of weeks in which balut was featured.

    CSI? Strange place for balut to show up…

    Don’t forget to go to the Asian Festival this Saturday. I’m sure there’ll be some Pinoy food for you. I want to see those Japanese drummers again!

  9. CSI–like I said, it was just mentioned. They were actually looking at some gory crime scene, and the character “Warrick Brown” said “That looks just like balut”. If you’d never heard of it (which thanks to you, I had) you would have had no idea what he was talking about. And just like real balut, my reaction was “Ugh! Yech!”
    I really wish I could have gone to the Asian Festival. Was our food truck friend there? Besides the Pinoy food, I really wanted to see the Thai dancers.

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