Date Day, Ducks, Eagle, Gray Jay - UPDATE September 28, 2019

It was a Date Day with Donna for awhile this afternoon. We took a canoe ride on Woods Lake and mostly sat still in the canoe by the shore as mallard ducks flew in. As we sat quietly, one swam by for a picture I like. Then we were surprised to see an adult bald eagle came on the scene. I haven’t seen one here for weeks, probably because I’ve been at my desk. 

Bald EagleBald eagle carrying mallard duck

The eagle flew low over the water. Donna said, “It caught something!” I hadn’t seen the catch with the shutter fluttering as I clicked a burst. We looked at the pictures to see what kind of fish it might be from this lake that is not known for any sizeable fish. It was a duck! I’ve never seen an eagle catch a duck before, although I did see one try several times some years ago. It carried the 2 or 3 pound duck with no trouble.

Mallard femaleMallard female Incoming mallardsIncoming mallards

 

Gray jay caching foodGray jay caching food Gray jay cacheGray jay cache

 

Earlier in the day, a gray jay, which I’ve started seeing here the last few days, was doing what gray jays do this time of year—caching food for the winter. After grabbing a beakful of sunflower seed hearts, it flew up into a white spruce and started caching. Gray jays cache food by encasing food in a ball of sticky saliva and gluing it in place. I don’t believe anyone knows if the saliva preserves freshness, inhibits odors, disguises the food as a nonedible item, protects against insects, or otherwise deters potential cache-robbers. The picture of a food cache stuck between a couple cones on a red pine was not from today. It’s from September 1984 when I was doing a fun little side-study that you can download by clicking on this highlighted title (Rogers, L. L. 2005. Weight-carrying ability and caching behavior of Gray Jays, Perisoreus canadensis: Adaptations to boreal winter. The Canadian Field-Naturalist 119(1):101-104.).

Thank you for all you do.
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center

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