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Bald eagles, coyotes and a kill

An old cow elk broke her leg trying to get over the fence when a car drove bye.  Didn’t take long for the predators to bring her down.  Yesterday early morning I drove up the road and found 5 coyotes on a kill.  Usually coyotes can’t bring a large elk down, but they might have in this case.  She was an easy kill.  Since I didn’t see any wolves around and the carcass was less than half eaten and still warm, not frozen, I assumed they were the culprits.  I watched them for over a good hour. One dominant coyote was chowing down.  Another bold coyote kept slinking around, trying to get in a few bites, but the big male wouldn’t have it.

Once the male got his fill, he’d go off somewhere, leaving the carcass for the secondary prowler.  She or he started tugging and pulling off the meat.  She got in about five or ten minutes before Mr. Big Man came back who then, with some posturing and fighting, threw her off.  Three other coyotes, not so bold, hung out in the trees.

Coyotes waiting their turn

Two beautiful Bald eagles waited in the trees, along with several Golden Eagles.  I watched a Golden and a Bald tug at each other in mid-air before going to their respective perches.  Of course, tons of magpies and crows waited.

It was cold outside, about 5 degrees.  I came back in the late afternoon, hoping to get some closer photos of the Bald eagles.  By now it was hovering near 0 degrees.  A beautiful Bald Eagle sat in a leafless aspen along with a Golden and some crows.  I zigzagged closer and closer.  I kept shooting and wondered how close I could get before she took flight.  I’ve actually seen this pair of Balds hanging around the valley a few weeks ago.  I knew the dog could get real close without disturbing her.  After all, the dog is essentially like the wolves or coyotes that she tolerates around kills.  In fact, I’ve watched coyotes eating a carcass with the crows around, or even a Bald eagle chasing a coyote off a kill.

Just when I saw her get a little ruffled and ready to fly, I backed away.  My hand on the camera was freezing!  Numb.

I drove up the road, watched the elk for a time in the beauty of the chilled sunset, then drove back home.  It was getting dim.  The birds, all of them, were gone.  The kill still there.  I wondered–where did those eagles go at night.  They’d been sitting out there all day, in fact I’d watched them for over an hour without them moving.  The cold didn’t bother them.  But they’d gone somewhere to bed down.  Where does a bird that big go to rest for the evening?

0 degrees sunset

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One Response

  1. Amazing video and photos! Great photo opportunities and well done.

    Bill

    Like

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