Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Golden Eagle Visits Our Neighborhood

We don't see ravens every day, so when a pair of them began swooping over our street and making a fuss, I stopped what I was doing for a second look.  They were enormous.  I called my kids over and pointed them out.  Then--on sheer impulse--I went into the house and got my camera.  It's not like ravens are all that rare, but I think they're wonderful.  The ancient Scandinavians considered them the messengers of Odin, and that makes them kind of cool.

I can't describe why I went for my camera, or why I went out my garage instead of trying to get a picture from my back yard, but I'm so glad I did.  It was just one of those moments of rare serendipity where an impulse paid off in a way I'll never forget.

Across the street, a honey locust tree towers over a neighbor's yard.  The ravens were swooping around, croaking and diving.  I didn't realize they were after something until I got close.  Then I realized it was an enormous bird.  It was a monster.

It was a golden eagle.

This guy was just sitting there, cool and alert.  Every now and then one of the ravens would land and try to get close.  The raven would squawk and peck the bark of the tree.  At one point, one of the ravens ripped off a small branch, gave it a good thrashing and then threw it down.  Very dramatic!

All this time, the eagle just sat there.

This guy was enormous.  To give you a size comparison, consider that an adult raven is about two feet long from beak to tail.  Here's another side-by-side photo.  The raven is trying to look tough.

I could almost hear the eagle saying, "Come one step closer.  Just, one, step..."

That was quite a sight.

Ravens are feisty and very cunning.  You usually don't see them hanging around cities, or places where Man lives.  They like the wild country.  You're more likely to see one picking a carcass by the side of a remote stretch of highway then you are to see one circling our neighborhood.

Even more rare is to get a visit from a golden eagle.  My kids were awed.

Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd, and before long all the neighbors had their cameras out, and were clicking away.  People were slowing down as they drove past and gazing into the treetops.  The eagle was very well camouflaged.

I would never have seen it had there not been a pair of angry ravens making all that noise.


  1. Eagle: "Go ahead . . . make my day . . ."

    A few years back, when we were driving down a mountain road in a wooded area in AZ, we had the privilege of seeing a golden eagle swoop out of the forest and glide ahead of us, as if he was simply another traveler using the road. Seen against the roadway, the size of the wings was incredible. He stayed ahead of us for about 20 seconds or something, before finally moving off between the trees.

  2. I had something very similar happen to me, but it was just a duck. Not nearly as exciting, but slightly more strange.

    On an unrelated note, a duck flies at approximately 35 MPH...

  3. We had a ruckus in our back yard a few years back. At the time, our unused BBQ grill on the back porch was the site of a Starling nest that my wife wouldn't let me charbroil as we'd been hearing the chirps of young Starlings for a few weeks by then.

    Well, as I peered out the back door to see what all the commotion was, I beheld what I can only describe as a scene of aviary warfare. There were several Magpies hoping back and forth from the fence to my vegetable garden cawing and snapping at each other. There were also several Starlings swooping in from the rooftops and across the yard taking swipes at the Magpies, especially when the pesky black and white birds would drop down to the garden.

    Further scrutinizing revealed to me that in the garden lay a dead/dying adolescent Starling, which the Magpies were in the process of attempting to devour. However, the adult Starlings were having none of it and were fighting off the Magpies as best they could. (Sadly, the young Starling was already too far gone to be saved anyway.)

    The neat/interesting/surprising thing about this situation was that it wasn't just the Starlings facing off against the Magpies. I also saw two Robins and a little yellow bird (Goldfinch?) that were fighting alongside the Starlings.

    It was fascinating to see these different species of birds all banded together against a common, and much larger, enemy. In the end, I chased them all away as I didn't want to have a rotting bird carcass in my garden. I found the remainder of the young Starlings cowering behind my shed. I don't know, but hope that they made it out okay after I scared away the Magpies.

    It was quite interesting. My apologies for posting a comment that is now probably longer than your original post, hehe.

  4. Hehehe. :)

    Birds are very dramatic, aren't they?

    I've been talking to people around our neighborhood, and I'm starting to believe that this particular eagle is a regular. We live right along the Jordan River area, and we see a LOT of wildlife.

    A friend said he had a golden eagle land on the trellace over his porch (he lives just a couple blocks down from me). The eagle puked up a bunch of bones and then took off in a great woosh. My friend hosed off his patio as best he could, but it was months before the smell went away.