Australian eagle takes down drone, video

This video says about itself:

2m Wedge-Tailed Eagle takes down Drone. Watch it Punch it out of the sky – Australia (Eagle is Fine)

8 August 2015

**Eagle was fine – she was massive, and used talons to ‘punch’ the drone out of the sky. Hung around overhead so I got a really good look. Eagle’s health was my main concern also**

This is the last thing a small bird sees when a Wedge-Tailed Eagle decides that you are dinner…

Do not fly drones near birds of prey, they clearly attack seeing you as a threat or the right sized dinner. This will cost you money and potentially harm to the bird. This one was fine.. the drone needed some attention before it could fly again.

If you see a bird of prey while flying. Land. I have added this to my operating procedure.

See also here.

One should hope more eagles in countries like Yemen or Pakistan may prevent some of the deaths of children and other civilians there by CIA or Pentagon drones.

Bald eagles on Californian islands, what do they eat?

This video from the USA says about itself:

Return Flight: Restoring the Bald Eagle to the Channel Islands

10 June 2011

This film chronicles the journey of the bald eagle‘s recovery from disappearance on the Channel Islands in the 1960s from DDT contamination, overhunting, and egg collecting to today’s population of about 60 birds on four Channel Islands, some that are successfully breeding. Film Correction: Annie Little’s title should say “Wildlife Biologist, Montrose Settlements Restoration Program”.

From Raptor Politics:

Bald Eagles are back in California’s Channel Islands archipelago, buts what’s on their menu?

Several years ago some people mused about the possibility of bringing extinct species back into existence, a process that’s been dubbed “de-extinction.” It’s an intriguing idea, but one important question that’s been asked as people have wrestled with the implications of de-extinction is just what it would mean to be an individual of a de-extincted species, suddenly thrust into an ecosystem for which it did not evolve. It would be cool to see a wooly mammoth, but those animals were not simply elephant analogues. They lived in a particular time and place, became sick when infected by particular pathogens, used particular features of the landscape to orient themselves, ate particular foods, competed with particular species over access to those particular foods, and were hunted by particular predators.

The truth is, we don’t have to bring back a long extinct sabercat or mastodon to begin to understand what it means to introduce an organism into an environment different from the one it expects. We do that sort of thing all the time, when we attempt to reintroduce species into areas that were once a part of their natural range but from which they have since become extirpated. The process is called “translocation,” and just such an experiment is going on right now, with bald eagles on California’s Channel Islands.

Comparing ecological information from the past with a species current habitat use would shed important light on the process by which a group of animals build homes in an altered landscape that was, at least at one time, home to their ancestors (or their cousins, in some cases). That’s why University of New Mexico biologist Seth D. Newsome, together with Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History researcher Paul W. Collins and Peter Sharpe from the Institute for Wildlife Studies, turned to the bald eagles.

“Even when historical, archaeological, and paleontological information is available to characterize a species’ former presence, abundance, and/or ecological role, essential ecological conditions such as habitat quality and food supply may have changed since a predator’s local extinction in the area slated for translocation,” they write. To complicate things even more, as humans have altered the ecosystem, we may have introduced new sources of food that could not have been exploited by earlier animals, and those prey species may contain contaminants (like rat poison) or be themselves of conservation concern, making the whole enterprise far more knotty than simply dumping a bunch of raptors onto some trees on a few islands in the eastern Pacific.

At one time, bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) graced the skies over all eight of California’s Channel Islands archipelago, hunting and scavenging off the plant and animal life both within and around them. But by the 1960′s, they disappeared. They declined in part due to hunting and egg collection and in part thanks to an overabundance of environmental contaminants. Those contaminants – namely DDT and PCBs – didn’t just affect them directly, but also indirectly, via their prey.

Then, starting in the early 1980′s, efforts began to reintroduce bald eagles to five of the eight islands on which they historically bred: Santa Catalina, San Clemente, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and Anacapa. By all accounts, it’s a fairly successful conservation effort.

Now, Newsome and his team want to know just how the raptors have managed to survive. Are they utilizing the same prey as the birds that came before, or have they adapted to an altered ecosystem? What impact do they have on other recovering wildlife populations, like seabirds or island foxes?

To find out what they’re eating, the researchers examined eagle nests in 2010 and 2011 for prey remains as well as feathers, from which they could extract carbon isotopes to determine on what they had been snacking. Feathers from nestlings were sampled as well, during annual banding efforts.

In all, the researchers collected more than 6200 bits of eagle leftovers, representing 72 species of prey items from 38 taxonomic families, though there were differences in which species or families dominated from island to island. Of the bits that could be identified, half were fish (especially rockfish, toadfish, and surfperch), 42% were birds (especially gulls, cormorants, alcids, fulmars, shearwaters, and waterfowl), and the rest were mammals (ungulates, rodents, and skunks). Thankfully, island foxes comprised just 0.3-0.5% of prey leftovers recovered. The stable isotope analysis revealed similar trends, though it indicated that they had more small fish in their diet (critters that are less likely to show up in prey remains).

Eagles from the northern islands ate more seabirds than did those from Catalina, while those from Catalina relied more heavily on a wider variety of fish. That could be because recreational fishing, which occurs more often off the coast of Catalina, provides an easy and reliable source of nutrition for the crafty raptors. In addition, while breeding seabird colonies are found on all the Channel Islands, the most abundant colonies, comprising some 72,000 individuals altogether, are found on San Miguel, Santa Cruz, and Anacapa Islands – not on Catalina, where there are just 300 or so breeding seabirds.

The eagles were also quite flexible in what they chose to eat. Data from Santa Rosa Island, which at one time was privately owned, showed that eagles there scavenged on deer and elk carcasses, which were hunted for trophies. (The National Park Service now operates the island, and hunting no longer occurs there.) Meanwhile, a nest from Catalina Island’s interior was far more likely to contain terrestrial food scraps from freshwater fish and ground squirrels.

Prehistoric eagles seemed to dine far more often on seabirds than on fish, suggesting that something in the ecosystem has shifted in recent years that resulted in a higher proportion of fish on the menu. That could in part be opportunism thanks to recreational fishing, but it could also reflect the decline of seabirds. And the particular seabird species preferred by the bald eagles has shifted over time, from a larger historical reliance on ducks and a larger modern reliance on gulls. That eagles are gobbling up gulls more often tracks with increasing gull populations in the North Pacific, a trend thought to be associated with human development.

This information not only highlights the diversity of prey items that Channel Islands bald eagles can feast upon, but also that they’ll scarf down just about anything.

Most importantly, Newsome and his colleagues calculated that the bald eagle population has not yet rebounded to historical levels, nor to the levels that could be sustained by the amount of food available. In the early twentieth century, there were at least 25 pairs scattered throughout the islands, and at least fifty pairs earlier than that. Today just nineteen breeding pairs are resident on the islands, half of which nest on Catalina alone.

Ultimately, the researchers hope that comparing ecological data from the past and the present can help wildlife managers set targets for species reintroduction efforts by gaining a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which human behavior – both historical and contemporary – affects wildlife populations.

Good British sea eagle news

This is a white-tailed eagle film from Sweden.

From Birdwatch in Britain:

White-tailed Eagle reintroduction project celebrates 100th breeding pair

Posted on: 28 May 2015

BBC Springwatch has revealed a significant milestone in the White-tailed Eagle reintroduction project, as the programme announced the 100th breeding pair on Hoy, Orkney.

It has been 40 years since the species was reintroduced to Scotland, and the revelation that the magnificent birds have reached the important milestone of 100 breeding pairs was revealed by Iolo Williams on this evening’s edition of BBC Springwatch. The 100th pair nested on Hoy, and are the first White-tailed Eagles to nest in Orkney for 142 years.

This milestone comes in a year of significant anniversaries for the reintroduction scheme. It is 40 years since the first young White-tailed Eagles from Norway were released on Rum in 1975 and 30 years since the first wild chick fledged on Mull in 1985.

The project – run by RSPB Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) – released 82 young eagles over 10 years on Rum. It marked the return of White-tailed Eagle – colloquially know as ‘sea eagle’ – to Scotland after an absence of nearly 60 years. More young eagles were released under the programme in Wester Ross between 1993 and 1998, while further releases took place in Fife from 2007 to 2012 through a partnership with Forestry Commission Scotland.

White-tailed Eagles became extinct in the UK due to widespread persecution. They bred in England and the Isle of Man and across Scotland and Ireland, but by 1900 only a handful of eyries remained, and all were in Scotland. The last known nesting attempt of wild origin was on Skye in 1916, and in 1918 the last British White-tailed Eagle was shot in Shetland.

The sea eagles on Hoy have been seen in the area every spring and summer since 2013 and are both thought to be young birds between four and five years old. This was their first known nesting attempt, and although they were unsuccessful in raising chicks that year the pair have gained vital experience for future nesting attempts.

However, as shown on Springwatch, this historic eyrie is an important step for expansion of the ranges of the species in Scotland and of great cultural significance to Orkney. The importance of eagles can be seen at the Neolithic ‘Tomb of the Eagles’ on South Ronaldsay, which contained the bones of up to 100 people and 14 White-tailed Eagles. A beautiful carving of a sea eagle on a Pictish stone found at the Knowe of Burrian can be seen at the Orkney Museum in Kirkwall.

Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland, said: “The success of bringing White-tailed Eagles back to Scotland over the last 40 years owes a great deal to the partners involved, as well as the support of Police Scotland, landowners, farmers, local community groups and organisations, and to Norway who gifted the young eagles. It’s fantastic to see how these magnificent birds have captured the public’s imagination, and that the sight of a sea eagle soaring in the Scottish sky is no longer a thing of the past. We’re delighted to celebrate the 100th breeding pair with BBC Springwatch.”

Susan Davies, SNH’s chief executive, said: “What a great conservation achievement – everyone in Scotland should be proud of this! Now these spectacular birds are back, bringing new tourism opportunities to fragile areas. Given their geographical spread, there’s growing chances of seeing these magnificent birds in your local area. It’s particularly wonderful that the birds have spread so far that we have the 100th pair nesting in Orkney, now restored to an area where sea eagles reigned so many years ago. This is one of nature’s brilliant success stories.”

Young sea eagle hatched for first time in Dutch Zwarte Meer

This video is about a white-tailed eagle (aka sea eagle) nest.

Translated from Natuurmonumenten conservation organisation in the Netherlands:

May 7, 2015, 15:59

At the Vogeleiland [bird island] in the Zwarte Meer lake a young sea eagle has hatched. That’s a first for a Natuurmonumenten area! Never before an eagle has nested successfully in one of our properties.

Nest fourteen meters high

Ranger Ruben Kluit says: “The huge nest of the eagle is fourteen meters high in a poplar. In 2009 the eagles built a nest in the same tree. That was lost in a spring storm. It’s great that they have now succeeded. What a beautiful moment when the young bird was visible for the first time !”

Young sea eagles ringed

This is a video about young white-tailed eagles.

Warden Hans Breeveld reports that today, in Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve in the Netherlands, two young sea eagles have been ringed at their nest.

Sea eagles, tenth nesting season in the Netherlands

This video is about sea eagles in Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve in the Netherlands.

White-tailed eagles had been absent as nesting birds in the Netherlands for centuries. In 2006, for the first time since so long ago, a breeding couple made a nest; in Oostvaardersplassen.

That couple still lives in Oostvaardersplassen; they recently started their tenth nesting season.

Meanwhile, other sea eagle couples started nesting elsewhere in the Netherlands, like in the Lauwersmeer and Biesbosch national parks.