By: Mike Anderson
A pair of bald eagles were recently spotted enjoying a shore lunch near Lake Dr. East and Courting House Place in Jackson’s Point. A Mallard duck was on the menu.
The gruesome meal was captured by Grant Brown, 73, an amateur wildlife photographer, who took the photos with a Panasonic Lumix equipped with a 25-600mm zoom lens.
Mr. Brown said the bald eagles were approximately 200 feet from the shore, perched on an ice edge.
“I thought it would be an osprey because we have a lot of ospreys around here. But as I got closer, I realized it was a bald eagle right way,” he said.
“I take a lot of pictures of birds here. We actually have a calendar that we put out with our neighbour Paul. But I’ve never seen a bald eagle. So, I was really happy to be able to get 20 pictures. They just stayed there, and they would look up every once in a while at the people along the road watching.”
Mr. Brown said it was interesting to watch how the two predatory birds interacted, as there was definitely a pecking order during the luncheon.
“The bigger one was the female. The other one, the male, stood back about ten feet just watching. When the female finished eating, it flew away, and the male came up and finished eating the duck,” he said.
During the 1970s, the bald eagle was on Ontario’s endangered species list, but it has since made a comeback.
According to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), the bald eagle has “Special Concern” status, which means the species is not endangered or threatened but may become threatened or endangered in the future.
“Bald eagles typically migrate south between August and January along major river drainage systems from the Great Lakes and spend the winter as far south as Missouri or northern Tennessee,” said Gary Wheeler, an MECP spokesperson.
“The availability of food is the most important factor determining where bald eagles spend their winters. Some bald eagles remain in Ontario all winter, often congregating over areas of open water with sufficient prey or where high deer populations are present, and carcasses may be found.”
The sight of two bald eagles feeding on the shoreline ruffled the feathers of some of Mr. Brown’s neighbours, who were worried about the safety of their pets.
But Jolanta Kowalski, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, said residents shouldn’t be concerned.
“It is rare for a bald eagle to go after domestic pets. Golden eagles are much more predatory, but both species do a lot of scavenging of carcasses, particularly in the winter,” she said.
“You often see them in an area where waterfowl congregate around open water. They hunt ducks, geese, gulls and other waterbirds. But often take weakened, sick or injured birds.”
Mr. Brown, who, after retiring two years ago, moved to Jackson’s Point from Toronto with his wife Debbie, said the bald eagles would feature prominently in next year’s calendar.
He’s also an amateur watercolourist and plans to paint one of the majestic birds.
“I’m doing more painting and taking more pictures. So, I combine the two. If I’ve got a nice photograph, I paint it,” Mr. Brown said.
“It’s beautiful living along the lake. It’s been great for my wife and I because we both enjoy having nature right beside our back door.”