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Too Big for Eatin’

This guy (girl?) hangs around up here on the south end of Channel Ridge (Salt Spring Island) from time to time along with another eagle—his (her?) mate I presume.

I think he likes to gnaw on the rabbits that plague the island and his perch at the edge of our infested lawn would seem to confirm it. That and the rabbit populations plummeted quickly after his arrival.

Locals give me another theory, proposing that he’s up here for ducks, geese, and other airborne fast food because apparently, and I’ve just learned this, the largest of these tasties can be plucked right out of the skies by a stealthy eagle (why demean yourself by picking food up off the ground, right?). I’ve also seen him circling above the beaches, and google tells me that bald eagles are mainly fish eaters. And this one for sure, because on sunny days he doesn’t stop in, just passes over, catches an updraft, and heads out over the channel.

I was lucky to catch him stationary. He called out, probably looking for hunting buddies—this while I was cooking lunch. Dad’s shiny new Nikon was ready and fitted with a medium telephoto so I grabbed the kit, and wearing a T-shirt and pajama bottoms in a chill afternoon 5°C with light wind and rain, stumbled up the rocks in back of the driveway in a pair of sandals—with no idea where he was—and somehow managed to spot him. Then quick scrambled up to a clearing with an open view of his perch and got him. All of this in about 45 seconds.

When I located him he was gazing down the mountainside doing that noble king-of-the-skies thing that comes naturally to a bald eagle. My lumbering through wet underbrush in pajamas and flip flops set off quite a din, so he turned his head to size me up—he is looking right at me, down at the useless land mammal. Then click, click, click, and he was gone.

Shy… Intolerant… Better things to do… Didn’t like me… Or maybe it was my size—meaning my being too big for eating. Still he is huge. In early December (I’m assuming he’s the same eagle) he cruised over the front lawn less than 50 feet away and banked into the woods giving me the full spread, and I kid you not he dwarfed the deer (the other plague of SSI) who were partying on the front lawn. I’ll guesstimate him having about 7 feet of wingspan.

For sure he wonders if he could carry a deer away. I know I do. Nom, nom.

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