Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cause and effect

The chain of events:

Early one morning, an otter is caught red-handed, gnawing on a freshly killed grass carp.

Attempts at closer otter photography only serve to scare him away.

Late the same afternoon, a juvenile Bald Eagle shows up, for the first time ever.

He flies over the fish several times,

before roosting nearby.

The next morning he's there again, and appears to be eyeing the fish. Harassed by hawks, he leaves before getting too close to the fish.

Later in the day, the cleanup crew arrives.

Jasmine has issues with them off and on throughout the day.

Black Vultures are more aggressive than Turkey Vultures, and kept their kinder, gentler cousins away from the kill for most of the day. The frustrated TVs performed a lot of posturing.

I presume this means "I'm bad" in vulture language.


Cast of players:
Northern River Otter (Lontra canadensis), black-hearted fish-stealer
Grass Carp, aka White Amur (Ctenopharyngodon idella), triploid (sterile) pond-saver
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), American icon
American Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus), raven-vulture clothed in black as for mourning
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura), misunderstood purifying one
Jasmine the Wonder Dog (Canis lupus familiaris), a Great Pyrenees


American Black Vultures are the ones with white just at the tips of their wings. Turkey Vultures have white all along the bottom underside.

Internet searches agree that Black Vultures are the more aggressive, but seem to say that the wing-spreading is only for warmth. That did not appear to be the case in these birds. It looked more like dominance behavior among the birds who had not been allowed to eat.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful! I love how you have pictures of the entire story & characters.

anne said...

What a fantastic tale! And wow, such awesome photos of the drama. I love it! I would agree that the turkey vultures are posturing, not just trying to stay warm. So very, very nifty. I am most envious that you get to see otters up close-ish like that! I love otters.

Shady Gardener said...

You've had quite the entertainment as well as been skillful at interpreting it! We have only the Turkey Vultures, here.

Anonymous said...

FC was talking about using roadkill to get better game shots. This seems to be a good indicator for it. I don't suppose there is anything legal you can do about those otters, is there? How did fish populations ever survive when otters were commonplace?

Anonymous said...

LOL, love your cause and effects post! This is what I call a perfect day!

R.Powers said...

Okay, okay, you win!
An Eagle and Otters?


I'd have to have a narwhale show up in the pond to beat your hand!

Rurality said...

Thanks y'all. It was quite a day!

Pablo, well if they are going to bring me Bald Eagles, I don't mind so much that they eat the fish. Just wish they'd leave us a few! I guess we could put up a fence if we wanted to keep them out. Truthfully I'd still want to keep one pond unfenced, so they'd still visit. Before farm ponds (otter-feeders), I guess otters just fished in rivers. And fish can probably hide better there. That does make me think we should probably provide some sort of underwater fish shelter though.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What a treasure of photos and events.

lisa said...

Now that's MY kind of "soap opera"!

Unknown said...

What drama! :) (And fantastic pictures!)

wolf21m said...

I think you should use your instincts and believe that the vulture posture was for dominance. Not all behavior is well documented on the internet, nor do all members of a given species act the same. You only need to look at humans to prove how great the diversity can be. What a great story.