This morning my new neighbor the Bald Eagle provided proof of his intentions – and I am loving him for it. I saw him swoop down into my almond orchard and pluck up the biggest, fatest, rotund ground squirrel I have ever seen. A huge squirrel and the eagle could barely take off with it. He carried it about thirty feet into the air and the squirming squirrel got away….but the damage was done. The injured squirrel did not live long on the ground.
I did not know if Bald Eagles would take ground squirrels but now I know and I am thrilled this bird is concentrating on the squirrels and not my chickens. I hope he keeps it up. We put any ground squirrels we shoot out for the raptors to keep them interested in this type of prey. We also absolutely prohibit the use of poison on our farm in any form so there can be no mistakes with a tainted ground squirrel body. This year has been particularly bad for ground squirrels and each of the hawks, osprey, and eagles who call our ranch home could eat two or three a day without making a dent in the population. I love seeing these birds fly through our trees as they hunt the squirrels.
I was worried at first that the presence of the eagle would drive away my hawks but I have seen the hawks hunting everyday in the back orchard. So I guess the birds have worked their territory issues out.
My neighbors say there are actually two Bald Eagles – I have only seen one. Not sure if they are a pair. One of our neighbors who lives up in the hills had the birds sitting in a pine tree like they were waiting for a photo shoot as they were hosting a dinner party. What a treat to have such a majestic bird as an unofficial dinner guest!