Jordan Lake. A study this morning in the process of molting in birds. To molt means the bird is changing out damaged and old feathers for a brand new set. All birds do this – in several different patterns. It just so happens that both the bald eagle (1st photo) and the Broad-winged hawk (2nd photo) do what is known as a sequential molt. They molt out the same section of flight feathers on each wing at the same time. Note that on both birds on each wing there are sets of feathers that are sticking out on the trailing edge with a matching set on the other wing. Not all birds do a sequential molt, it really depends upon the species. In this case it also helps me to know that the bald eagle is two-years-old. The Broad-winged hawk is an adult. The molt patterns do make them both look rather raggedy, doesn’t it! Oh and did you see the fish the eagle is carrying?
Jordan Lake, Haw River 16 minutes after the sun rose … I was tracking a male osprey as he came in over the dam and almost disappeared down into the shadows of the riprap and the sudden glare of the sun. I watched the osprey flare and snatch his fish and then the quiet morning exploded in osprey shrieks and great blue heron gronks. A large light grey shadow was closing in on the osprey. I don’t know if the heron had had an eye on the same fish as the osprey or that the heron took exception to the osprey disturbing his morning fishing. The osprey fled the river with his fish and out over the dam and the heron grumbled his way back to the riprap shoreline.
Jordan Lake does not have a human happy hour, so to speak, because alcohol is not allowed at the lake. However, American Crows define happy hour to be any time that they come across some human food to haul off. The lead crow has either a piece of chicken wing or maybe chicken nugget and it is heading for the clan’s cache tree. The other two crows are part of his family/clan that are escorting him across the open part of the lake in order to keep other clans from stealing that tidbit of human food. It appears that fried chicken in any form or shape and at any hour is appealing both to humans and to crows!
Jordan Lake: Mom bald eagle came ripping across the top of the trees. There was a 3-year-old bald eagle in her territory. The face-to-face mid-air action was breath-taking! It didn’t take Mom Eagle long to chase the youngster through the trees and out of the cove. Whew!
The sun was hot and bright. The Haw River was running gently. A great blue heron fledgling was fishing … sometimes he got his fish … sometimes he missed. Practice is both the key to the catch and the key to getting the fish from the front of the beak to inside the beak and down the throat!
Jordan Dam, Haw River: How does a great blue heron go about swallowing a fish that is bigger than his own head and throat? Remembering that birds are living dinosaurs and therefore closely related to reptiles, I think the birds work at relaxing the muscles of their jaw and throat until they can work their way around the fish. You will see several pauses while this fledgling heron goes utterly still – I think that is when he is resting and allowing his muscles to stretch. That’s my take on the situation. He also occasionally dips the fish back into the water to keep it wet and maintain its slipperiness. The whole episode took more than 10 minutes … I have put up only the last part of the heron’s work. As to the trash, I wish people were more careful about the environment and took their trash out with them.