Right Place, Right Time, Unless You were the Squirrel
This morning my nephew and I were driving across the Cedar River when I spotted an adult bald eagle standing in the water. Based on past experiences, I feared the eagle was in trouble and I would be spending the afternoon rescuing the bird, ill possibly due to lead poisoning. As I turned the truck around and again crossed the bridge, we watched as the eagle appeared to be struggling to swim from the sandbar to the river’s edge. My fear of an ill or injured eagle grew.
By the time we were turned around for a third look (and pictures), we found the eagle had swam to and was sitting on a log along the edge of the river. This sighting, though, was different. The eagle was struggling as it swam since it was dragging a heavy, fighting load with it. On the log in the talons of the eagle was a former healthy male fox squirrel.
My nephew and I watched the eagle for a few seconds as it was challenged on the log with the squirrel. Soon after, the eagle decided to take flight – attempting to carry the squirrel with it.
Apparently the carrying capacity of an adult bald eagle is much less than I would have guessed. Even though the eagle first gained altitude with the squirrel in its claws, it did not take long before the eagle was just above the surface of the river with the squirrel bouncing across the water being carried by the eagle. The two remained at low-level flight until I lost sight of them.
It appears the bald eagle was able to grab the squirrel from wherever the squirrel was not paying enough attention. From there the eagle went to the river where it was standing in the water with the squirrel clenched in its claws underneath the water’s surface (the point when I spotted the eagle). Then the eagle moved to the log and eventually took flight. From what I could see in my many pictures, the squirrel still had some life in it and was moving its legs as the eagle carried it to what I assume became a dining tree somewhere along the Cedar River.