I originally scheduled the day after my Birdathon trip as a rest day. But the promising weather and my large cup of coffee made me to drive 3 hours southwest to Yaquina Head Lighthouse on the Oregon coast instead.
There were recent reports of an active Peregrine Falcon nest and it was just too tempting to resist.
I arrived at the lighthouse natural area, but not knowing exactly where the nest was, I looked around and found a surprising scene.
It was a massacre. Bald Eagles, followed by scavenging Western Gulls had decimated what looked like hundreds of Common Murre eggs.
Nature can be brutal. Volunteers at the lighthouse have U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service pamphlets for the visiting public that explain the phenomenon further.
“Adapting Anew to an Old Foe: Recently, Bald Eagle have moved into places they haven’t been seen in years. Common Murre in these areas have little experience with Bald Eagle predation and often flee when eagles approach. Some murres are readapting to this historic predator. Instead of abandoning their nests they sit tight and wait for the danger to pass.”
Unfortunately for the murres, the eagles got the upper hand this day. This article is also a great read about the recent rebalancing.
It was hopeful to see some rocks still piled with healthy and live Common Murre.
Still no signs of the peregrines, so I followed the stairs down to the tidal pools to visit Harlequin Ducks and Black Oystercatcher.
I looked to my right to see a pair of Pelagic Cormorant acting lovey dovey on their nest.
Aw, so sweet. And here’s a Western Gull for good measure.
At this point I realized the peregrine nest was possibly on the cliff-face near the visitor center. Indeed it was. As I drove closer, I saw the group of cameras, tripods, and long lenses and knew I had found the right place.
Yep. Peregrine Falcon chicks!
Ferociously sweet. And the Common Murres aren’t the only ones tormented by eagles. So too was this brave falcon parent.
With prey gripped in her talons she flew toward her nest, when suddenly three juvenile Bald Eagles swarmed her and she dropped the prey in the parking lot. Used to the drama, a Yaquina Head Interpretive center employee promptly came outside to escort the spectators to look at the dropped meal before barricading it off.
For the next hour the falcon zoomed back and forth in the sky defending her territory from eagles and now Turkey Vultures that entered the scene thanks to the dropped goodies.
Being a Peregrine parent is hard work.
Things quieted down before a second, male falcon (according to the crowd), brought in fresh prey and the pair switched off.
The latest word on the fledglings:
Be brave little murres, the peregrines are coming!
Tweets and Chirps,