[Tweeters] Falcon hunting lesson

Rob Sandelin nwnature1 at gmail.com
Tue Jul 14 04:00:00 PDT 2015

Went out to the mouth of the Elwha River over the weekend. Perched on a
gravel bar were 104 gulls in a group, mostly Glaucaus-winged but a good
number of Heerman's. Suddenly the whole group rose into the air with a great
deal of screaming. Two peregrine falcons flew in from the vast new delta,
about 10 feet off the ground. As they approached the gulls one flew up about
30 feet, the other stayed low. The gulls were a mass of screaming, swirling
wings and the lower falcon swerved away, chasing a singled out bird, the
upper falcon stooped into the mass, hit a gull and dropped with it to the
ground. I lost track of the lower bird.

After the chaos had subsided, the lower bird landed next to the successful
bird and started calling, obviously begging. I was able to see that the
successful bird was an adult, the second was juvenile. The adult plucked out
the breast feathers of the gull, and then ate big chunks of breast meat
while Jr. continuously cried and hopped around. Finally the adult went over
to the offspring and regurgitated some food and Jr. shut up.

The adult bird flew out towards the river and the juv. picked at the carcass
for a bit before flying after the parent. As I walked around I found 2 other
gull carcasses with the breast eaten.

BTW, the change in this area is tremendous since 2011.

Rob Sandelin
Naturalist, Writer, Mostly retired teacher
Snohomish County

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