Bald eagles & coyotes

Posted by: Raleigh Robertson

On the morning of 3 February 2010,  at about 8 AM,  looking across the lake from our farm on Lake Opinicon, I spotted some activities near the far shore.  With my spotting scope, I discovered there were 2 Bald Eagles and 2 Ravens, feeding on a deer carcass.  It appeared to be a relatively fresh kill, since I could see the birds pulling on meat that wasn’t frozen, even though it had been minus 10 C overnight.  The Eagle plumage was quite distinctive, indicating one 2nd year, and one 3rd year.  About an hour later, there were 3 coyotes at the kill.  All were beautiful animals, in excellent pelage.  From watching urination events, I think one was male, one female, and the third, of unknown sex, was definitely subordinate – it consistently was submissive to the other two, and it often stayed off to the side, seeming to act like a sentinel.  The coyotes were eating, but also trying to haul the carcass over to the shoreline.  I later walked across the ice to check out the carcass, which was about 20 m from the far shore.  It was indeed fresh, meat along backbone still unfrozen, and it had been mostly consumed.  It was a small doe, possibly a yearling.  I think it was likely killed by coyotes during the night (the ice on the lake was quite bare, smooth and slippery,  following heavy rains a week ago, so a deer driven to the lake by coyotes would have very little traction), and then the pack of coyotes would have gorged on it, eating much of the meat.  Then at daylight, the scavenger birds had come in.  When watching the coyotes, I saw one taking a deer leg off into the woods, so the carcass was largely dismembered by 9 AM.  By about 10 AM, the coyotes were gone, and there was an adult Bald Eagle feeding at the carcass.   Then, by about 1 PM, there was a second year Bald Eagle at the carcass, and finally, at about 4 PM, there were 5 eagles and 2 ravens at the carcass.  The 5 eagles included 2 juveniles, one 2nd year, one 3rd year, and one uncertain, probably 2nd or 3rd year.

Interestingly, in later browsing the Bird Studies Canada website, and following their links to the eagle tracker –  based on the movements of Spirit, a bird tagged with a satellite transmitter in 2006, it is possible that the adult eagle I saw was this bird.  It’s location at the time seemed to be very much centred around Lake Opinicon.

Fisher & bloody tracks …

Posted by: Raleigh Robertson.

On Tuesday (2 Feb 2010) morning, from our back porch at our farm on Opinicon, I saw a fisher cross the path under the hydro

The blood covered red cedar, one week later, after lots of the blood had been rubbed off by subsequent antler rubbing. Click on picture for larger version.

corridor, about 40 m W of the house.  It was headed toward the lake, then went up the ridge to the south.  When I went out to look at its tracks in the fresh snow, I saw lots of blood, and at first thought the fisher had just killed a grouse or rabbit.  However, after more tracking I realized the blood, which was very fresh, and with sprays, as from a small artery, was from a deer – I could see three different spots where the deer had lain down, and a pool of blood formed.  When I backtracked, I discovered a small red cedar where a deer had presumably rubbed its antlers, and the 10 cm trunk was completely blood covered up to about 50 cm from the ground.  In the past, I’ve seen lots of cedars that deer had used to rub antlers, but never had I seen evidence of blood.  I’d be interested to hear of other observations of blood covered antler-rubbing trees.  In any case,  I think the deer had done its thing, and then the fisher had smelled the blood and had come to check it out.  Lois and I later searched for dropped antlers, but found none.