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12 July 2018 First Description of a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) Actively Depredating an Adult Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis)
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From late February to early April the Central Platte River Valley in Nebraska is home to the largest gathering of Sandhill Cranes (Antigone canadensis) in the world and increasingly serves as a foraging ground for migrating Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). On 7 March 2017, we documented a subadult Bald Eagle depredating an adult Sandhill Crane. Though evidence suggests that Bald Eagles depredate Sandhill Cranes on rare occasion, the process of that depredation has not been described in the scientific literature. The Sandhill Crane effectively defended itself several times against hovering attacks from the Bald Eagle by utilizing wing-spread displays and “bill stab” attacks. However, the Bald Eagle was eventually able to land on the Sandhill Crane's neck and back with its talons, push the crane's head under water, and drown its prey. Following submersion, the Sandhill Crane was only momentarily responsive before floating on its back down the river. We also documented 5 subadult Bald Eagles competing for access to a second Sandhill Crane carcass. As Bald Eagle populations continue to recover, Sandhill Cranes may become more frequently depredated by Bald Eagles during the spring migration-staging period in the Central Platte River Valley.

© 2018
Andrew J. Caven, Joshua D. Wiese, William R. Wallauer, and Kristin J. Mosher "First Description of a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) Actively Depredating an Adult Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis)," Western North American Naturalist 78(2), 216-220, (12 July 2018).
Received: 3 April 2018; Accepted: 11 May 2018; Published: 12 July 2018

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