Two bald eagles altered their hunting tactics and seemingly worked together to outsmart sea ducks in a recent story submitted by a BDN reader, Kate Chaplin of Northeast Harbor, for the “Strange Stories in the Maine Wilderness” series. The story got me thinking. Just how intelligent are bald eagles?
When I first read Chaplin’s story, I was reminded of a suspenseful scene in the 1993 movie Jurassic Park. In the scene, two velociraptors work together to hunt down children hiding in a kitchen. The way the two dinosaurs move in tandem and communicate using special vocalizations suggests an eerie intelligence that makes the scenario even more terrifying. At the same time, it lends a human-like quality to the prehistoric animals.
Chaplin’s eagle story reminded me that modern day creatures can be just as awe-inspiring as the prehistoric animals fabricated by Hollywood.
Enthusiastic about the topic, I did some digging to learn more about one of Maine’s most celebrated birds. And I learned that while bald eagles usually hunt solo, tandem hunting by bald eagles has been documented.
“It’s been documented in eagles hunting cattle egrets, waterfowl and gulls by both territorial pairs [of bald eagles] and immature bald eagles,” said Erynn Call, raptor biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “It’s a relatively rare behavior [for eagles], but it’s been found that they’re more successful during those tandem hunts than in solo hunts.”
Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.
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