Two small patches of white caught my eye.
Even 400 yards away, they were unmistakable: A Bald Eagle’s head and tail. The bird was on a log that had become embedded in the muddy perimeter of Eagle Island. That’s the aptly named bit of high land that remained after our stretch of the Kalamazoo River was dammed decades ago. Eagles are a common sight here. Only, this eagle was behaving somewhat oddly.
If you study the photo anchoring this post, you might notice that the eagle has a dark smudge on its beak. And its normally bright yellow talons are covered with mud. At first, I thought the bird was just ferreting around at the island’s edge. It might have spotted a bird or small animal.
But the eagle was lingering on the log, and it appeared to walk with a limp. I zoomed in to get a closer look. The bird’s left talon seemed to be stuck on something it had stabbed. It labored to lift that foot, struggling for eight or ten minutes.
Eventually, the eagle revealed the object of its entanglement. It was indeed dinner, but the prey was so large, the eagle struggled to remove it from the muck.
Take a look at a clip of what I saw.It’s hard to see exactly what the eagle dragged into the woods. Bert and I studied the footage frame by frame. We suspect the eagle had latched onto a carp—a long-dead, bloated carp that had floated behind the log. The Department of Natural Resources is currently trapping and killing carp to reduce their over-population. I suppose one might have escaped a trap. Carp are also a popular target for bow fishermen, who don’t always retrieve what they shoot.
Or, maybe the meal is some other protein. Does anyone see a different creature in the eagle’s grasp?