Teenage eagle learns hard lesson – East Idaho News

Brain experts report that the human brain doesn’t mature until age 26, and I don’t know any bird experts who know anything about the maturity of bird brains. Wednesday, I saw a juvenile bird brain act that almost resulted in the death of an immature Bald eagle.

I was driving along the Warm River east of Ashton when I saw a juvenile Bald eagle dive bomb an adult male Mallard in the water. The explosion of its belly sent water exploding high into the air as the two birds became entangled in an unexpected web of misery. When I stopped my rig and turned around, the eagles stomachaches turned to wills to live.

The duck flew away, unharmed, while the eagle used its wings as an oar and steered it to a small island in the middle of the river. Getting out of the water was a chore, but he finally did it, spreading his wings in the unseasonable 44 degree heat to dry.

The young eagle uses its wings to help it walk through the snow looking for a little ground. | Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com

After resting, it tried to fly, but fell back into the water. After it got on the snow again, it used its wings as snow paddles to cross the island to reach a clearing where it blew like an old steam engine.

After resting and trying to dry its soaked feathers for about 20 minutes, it flew about 15 feet to a beavers feed station. It was finally close enough for me to observe how wet it was from head to toe. I could tell it was very young, because its black bill had the yellow edge of a young nestling.

It was in no hurry to try to fly again, but it made its way to a beaver-skinned log about a foot from the water where it could spread its wings and try to float the water-soaked breast feathers. . While watching it for half an hour, I heard the cry of a mature Bald eagle landing in a nearby tree.

Wet eagle
This picture shows how wet all the feathers are so the bird can’t fly more than a few feet. | Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com

The adult made several calls with the young eagle calling back and I believe the adult was probably one of his parents who came to check why the child was late for lunch. The adult flew up and down the Warm River several times while the boy continued to dry his feathers. I decided to leave and look for other things to photograph, and when I came back about an hour later the two birds were gone.

I can only imagine the conversation between the two eagles as they discuss what happened. I’m sure there will be a lecture about picking dead ducks instead of attacking a live one almost as big as himself. The experience probably created a big learning curve about not getting your feathers wet and how long it takes to dry on a typical cloudy day.

It brought back memories of when I used to do SDT (stupid, dumb things) as a kid. I hope it learned a few things better than I did.

Eagle Dry
After resting for about 20 minutes, the eagle can fly a short distance to land at the beaver’s feed station at the edge of the water.

With the unseasonably warm weather we have birds and animals that still find food wherever they go and I can’t find them where we see them. But the forecasts from the weatherpersons tell us that after Christmas we will have some bad weather to contend with.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and may you reach your destination, be safe and have fun with family and friends. Be kind and considerate to everyone you meet.

Eagle drying
The eagle was finally able to fly to a small stick and then to a log where it was able to spread its wings to dry them. | Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com
Bald eagle
Eventually an adult Bald eagle appeared to give encouragement and watch over the cub as it dried its feathers to fly again. | Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com

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