Bald eagle with its prey (a gull)

Deadly Encounter

In an unusual kayaking experience this summer, we saw first-hand just how “red in tooth and claw” Mother Nature can be.

We were watching a bald eagle being pursued by seagulls – a common sight on the west coast – when, with a sudden swoop, the eagle snatched a gull out of the air and made off with it, landing on a nearby islet.

Next we saw a flurry of white as the eagle expertly plucked the feathers from the gull and tossed then aside like confetti. By the time we had paddled closer to the islet, the gull had been reduced to something resembling a limp rag doll and the rocks and seaweed were littered with down.

Although we didn’t try to get too close, I guess the eagle didn’t fancy our company. Eyeing us, the bird lifted its massive wings and took off, holding onto the gull, whose head bobbed along like a macabre marionette as it was carried out over the bay.

Pretty? Definitely not. But pretty awesome all the same.

About Laurie MacBride, Eye on Environment

Photographer focused on nature and nautical on the BC coast

10 responses »

  1. ehpem says:

    This is a great shot – the motion in the wings is perfect.
    While you were away you may have missed the series of photos someone took at Ogden Point of an octopus taking a seagull, drowning it and spiriting away for lunch (easy enough to find with a search). Bad time for gulls this summer.

  2. Awesome sight to see. It is truly an experience getting to watch a bald eagle hunt. Nice shot as well:)

  3. Sherry Galey says:

    That must have been quite a sight in the wild. Just being that close to an eagle is something but to see it in action…a reminder that nature is not always an idyllic place.

  4. Kathy Fletcher says:

    We saw an eagle snatch a gull in Glendale Cove (Knight Inlet) in July, the first time we witnessed that in many years of watching eagles and gulls do their thing. We then heard from someone else who observed the same thing the very next day in the same spot. Pretty dramatic, in that the eagle nailed the gull in the water then swam to shore with it as it struggled.

    • Dramatic, indeed! I wonder if these eagles have been experiencing a shortage of fish this year that has caused this behaviour. A gull seems like a much less desireable meal – more work rquired to pluck it, for one thing, and less to eat than a salmon might be. Thanks for visiting & commenting, Kathy!

  5. Phil Lanoue says:

    Absolutely amazing!
    I guess the eagle will only put up with so much before he gets pushed over the edge and then the gull pays the price.

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