Eagle vs loons

Joined
Jan 20, 2014
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Saranac Lake, NY
Today, I enjoyed a great day trip in the Adk's St Regis canoe area: Long- Slang-Turtle-Hoel-Polliwog-Follensby Clear ponds. As I was lying in the sun along Long Pond, eyes closed, listening to the loons, and thinking it doesn't get much better than this, I heard a whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. I opened my eyes to see a bald eagle rising from near the surface of the lake 100' away, near where the loons were.

The last couple of times that I was at Hitchen's Pond I witnessed eagles apparently going after loons and their young. It was an amazing sight to behold.

Has anyone else seen eagles going after loons? Will eagles catch loon chicks? Or are they going after the fish that the loons caught?
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
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I have seen eagles take full size ducks and beaver kits, so loon babies would not be out of the question. However, a fully grown loon is a big bird, an eagle might have a tough time with momma.
 
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I haven't seen an eagle go after a loon chick, but I've seen and heard loons get mighty upset when an eagle is present. I originally thought they were just competitors, but it makes sense that there's also a predatory relationship as well.
 
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Aug 23, 2013
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Red Lake, Ontario
I heard a first hand account of an Eagle taking a cat, grabbed it and went way up high with hit then dropped it. Cat may have landed on it feet but used up all nine of his lives in that fall. Became an easy meal for the Eagle at that point.
 
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Jun 12, 2012
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Appleton, Maine
" As I was lying in the sun along Long Pond, eyes closed, listening to the loons, "

Don't get better than that!
 
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Sep 27, 2013
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Colrain MA
There was a 'Live Cam' last year of eagle chick in FLA and there were a couple cat collars in the nest.

We had Eagle vs Crows last month.

Sitting in the dining room with another couple and an eagle flew into a tree with two crows in it. I think there must have roadkill below. The crows put up with him for a few minute and then went on the offense. The eagle flew off with the crows right behind. Later the crows returned.
 
Joined
Feb 29, 2012
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Schenectady, NY
My son and I watched an osprey and a loon on Long Pond (St Regis) perform this refrain for 20 minutes:
Circle, dive, climb (osprey), dive, resurface (loon), repeat.

The osprey would circle and dive over and over, just as the loon would dive and resurface over and over, for all we knew this went on all season long.

I thought that loons were pretty high on the food chain, and relatively secure in their watery haven, but I guess not.

If that osprey planned on a loon lunch, surely an eagle would have an easier time of it yet!!
 
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Loons chicks are definitely prey for hawks and eagles from the air. From the water they have to be wary of large fish (pike maybe?) and turtles.

As I learned last year, adult loons can be quite aggressive and that beak is very sword like - I didn't want to be on the business end of it. I'm sure hawks and eagles know this or learn this, but I could see how in desperation one might try to needle a weaker or lone loon. After the frustration of the loon diving or in the rare chance it caught that beak, I'd imagine it will move on.

Loons will yodel like mad when they see a hawk or eagle. It's a good way to spot one. If you hear the loons yodeling, look up or in the trees. Chances are you'll see a
big bird.

Had this been my other boat it would have been an 'Eagle' vs. Loon. I happened to find out later on that there was a nest directly behind me in alder bushes.

993036_510743905659408_308601152_n.jpg
 
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I'd never thought about eagles preying on loons before, this is interesting. I've seen hawks, crows, jays and owls getting harassed by smaller (prey) birds, but not yet eagles. That's a very cool photo l'oiseau, thanks for sharing it. If I could just once get that close, I'd wear a smile just like that guy.
 
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Loons chicks are definitely prey for hawks and eagles from the air. From the water they have to be wary of large fish (pike maybe?) and turtles.

As I learned last year, adult loons can be quite aggressive and that beak is very sword like - I didn't want to be on the business end of it. I'm sure hawks and eagles know this or learn this, but I could see how in desperation one might try to needle a weaker or lone loon. After the frustration of the loon diving or in the rare chance it caught that beak, I'd imagine it will move on.

Loons will yodel like mad when they see a hawk or eagle. It's a good way to spot one. If you hear the loons yodeling, look up or in the trees. Chances are you'll see a
big bird.

Had this been my other boat it would have been an 'Eagle' vs. Loon. I happened to find out later on that there was a nest directly behind me in alder bushes.

993036_510743905659408_308601152_n.jpg

I'm tempted to say this loon is courtesy of Photoshop. The ripples around the back 2/3 of its body don't look quite right. But I'll take your word for it. The loon had to have been sitting very still in the water.
 
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I'm tempted to say this loon is courtesy of Photoshop. The ripples around the back 2/3 of its body don't look quite right. But I'll take your word for it. The loon had to have been sitting very still in the water.

I know it doesn't look real, but I was there. My wife took the pictures.

I have more:

1001800_510743938992738_1457854884_n.jpg
1010989_510743888992743_1254753728_n.jpg
485416_510743968992735_1775739043_n.jpg
 
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And yes at that point when it was near the boat, it was very still and didn't quite know what to think. I was prying the stern around and we were circling him (or her) - there were two but I'm not sure which was the male and which was the female, but I'd assume they were mates.At any rate. The loon holding it's ground, and we thought it was just curious so we stayed where we were. Then it lunged it's pointy beak into the side of our boat and starting heading up for my wife! I decided we had been close enough and we should move on seen as how we were the intruders.Anyway here is the scratch on the boat. I swear that is the exact spot where he tried to spear it!

1044433_510744602326005_1233997954_n.jpg


I know it's hard to see but that spot where the decal is scratched and around there is right where the loon stabbed at the boat.

Also, here is the pair a bit farther away. One of the loons didn't really care for us, I suspect the male, and just continued doing his thing.

1011996_510743822326083_114260456_n.jpg
1009751_510743818992750_274964908_n.jpg
 
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The cool thing is someone saw these photos posted on another forum and paddled through there and spotted a loon on the nest:

http://benvollmer.com/blog/2013/07/28/fish-creek-loon/

We went back later and found the nest ourselves. At this point it had been abandoned. This creek gets a lot of traffic so the loons may have abandoned or been raided by a ground critter - I never saw any loons with chicks in this area. There is a chance they did hatch and they relocated.

1151011_528996743834124_1860290103_n.jpg
 
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Wow, what a wonderful experience you had! I didn't really doubt that the loon was there, just commented that it looked like it had been pasted in. I'm glad to know it wasn't and that you had a once-in-a-long-time encounter.

Last year I had a close encounter with a loon on Sea Gull Lake in the Boundary Waters. It came within a foot of the boat. Here are the pics I got.

084bSeagullLoon2LR.jpg085SeagullLoonWingsLR.jpg086SeagullLoonCloseLR.jpg088SeagullLoonSwim1LR.jpg089SeagullLoonSwim2LR.jpg

The last two show it swimming next to and under the boat.
 
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So many people have told me it doesn't look real. I think part of it is the rain, the smoothness of the water (no chop like yours) and the way the water runs off the bird. You can see the cohesive nature of the water at the edge of the bird and how the hydrophobic oils repel the drink. If you get to see one close in calm water you'll see what I mean - like that picture it looks like they 'bend' the water and just sit on top of it.

Also I don't know if you got to see the feet on the one you saw... but that was quite an experience for me. I'd never seen then in the flesh and they were quite interesting to say the least. The loon next to our boat, even though it looked still, was kicking around to hold it's position in the slight current of the creek. It's amazing to see how effortless it is for them... but you see them try to take off and see how much they've given up to be that adapted to floating and diving!

I've never posted the picture with me in it before but I thought I had to show the scale of how big that bird was... there is some parallax distortion but having been that close I was really surprised how big it was - they are bigger than I thought they were. In between a duck and a goose I'd say.
 
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So many people have told me it doesn't look real. I think part of it is the rain, the smoothness of the water (no chop like yours) and the way the water runs off the bird. You can see the cohesive nature of the water at the edge of the bird and how the hydrophobic oils repel the drink. If you get to see one close in calm water you'll see what I mean - like that picture it looks like they 'bend' the water and just sit on top of it.

I studied it for a while. Two things got my attention. Some of the ripples looked like they were partial circles, as though the loon image had been superimposed. They still catch my Photoshopper's eye. The other is that the bird seems to be more sharply outlined than the rest of the picture. On closer examination that's not the case, but again, there's a sense of it having been masked with a fairly low level of feathering (which determines how hard or soft an edge a copied image will have).

I have no doubt whatsoever that the photo shows exactly what was there.
 
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
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Vermont
Close encounters with loons. One weekend a few years ago my wife and I decided to take my elderly parents out for a short paddle on a local pond/lake for their anniversary. They were in their 80s at the time. You have to understand that my parents are from suburban Connecticut and neither of them ever had any real interest or appreciation for the wild side of nature. They loved golf courses and manicured landscapes. Neither had ever seen a loon, they had no idea what a loon is. They never really understood why I kept going off on these long treks in the "wilderness" and I think in their private moments they probably thought I had lost my mind. They grew up in depression and their view of the world was colored by that experience. We knew of course that there were several nesting pairs of loons on the pond. We packed a fancy dinner and a bottle of champagne and loaded up our two canoes. We found a way to get two 80 years olds with zero fitness into the bow of our boats and we paddled out to a small island and had dinner. As evening approached we loaded them back into the canoes (not an easy task) and we paddled them out into the pond. It was dusk. As if on command a pair of loons joined us, not 10 feet from our canoes, and began to laugh and call to beat the band. It was a special moment. I think they started to understand me a bit better that day.
 
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rpg51, I wonder if you have any idea of your great good fortune. What I would give to be able to take my Dad out in a canoe ....
 
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