Saturday, May 16, 2009

Eagle Gang Preying on the Defenseless

The Sun Journal also has an article about how the bald eagle is threatening to wipe out the great cormorant population on the Maine coast (Hungry eagles target Maine's coastal seabirds). This is one of the unintended consequences of the recovery of the bald eagle population and that of killer wales.
"They're [the eagles] like thugs. They're like gang members. They go to these offshore islands where all these seabirds are and the birds are easy picking," said Brad Allen, a wildlife biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. "These young eagles are harassing the bejesus out of all the birds, and the great cormorants have been taking it on the chin."
According to the article there are only 80 nests of great cormorants in Maine.  The article also points out:
A growing number of killer whales caused a chain of ecological events that reduced the number of otters and amount of kelp providing habitat for fish, Robert Anthony reported in the journal Ecology. With fewer fish and baby otters to eat, eagles began raiding nests of other birds.

In Maine, eagles have been spotted eating loon chicks and have occasionally been known to carry off adult loons, said Sally Stockwell, director of conservation at Maine Audubon.
Comment: So our national bird is a thug.  Maybe Ben Franklin was correct and we should have adopted the turkey.


Grandmère Mimi said...

As happens too often, the law of unintended consequences comes into play.

The eagles are making a comeback here, too, but they're not yet pests.

motheramelia said...

They're quite magnificent to see. There was one that sat in a tree in the median strip on the interstate that I would see when I drove south to Bangor during my last interim. I wondered what he/she was looking for. The poor coastal birds have no defense.