Monday 29 April 2013

Eagle Learns about Leks

Wow. An amazing sight very early this morning. While out counting black grouse lekking (displaying) as part of ongoing monitoring, a juvenile golden eagle appeared. The black grouse all disappeared in a flash and the young eagle didn't catch one, but it hung around. The urge to lek is so strong in the male black grouse that they started coming back fairly soon and the eagle had another swoop in.
A young eagle - note the white tail and white undersides to its wings

A male black grouse at a lek. An easy target???

I watched for about half an hour and the eagle had no luck. Black grouse are generally only occasional prey for an eagle, but if this one does learn to catch them, then he has breakfast lined up every spring as the birds not only congregate but make a bubbling call as well, alerting the eagle to where they are. However, as eagles are generally lazy hunters it might well be that it's all too much hassle.

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