Birds in conflict: Bald eagles attack colonies of herons across Western Washington

Wildlife News

Saturday, March 27, 2010

source:The Seattle Times

Submitted by: 'edkeagle'

Seattle Times staff reporter

Near a small pond on Renton's western edge, nests of great blue herons, perched up to 100 feet high in a stand of cottonwood trees, appear safe from any danger from below.

But not from above.

With increasing frequency, this heron colony and others throughout Western Washington are being attacked by bald eagles. It's gotten to the point that Suzanne Krom, founder of a group called Herons Forever, said eagles are treating heron nesting grounds as "all-you-can-eat, fast-food delis."

Bald eagles, roaring back from the brink of extinction, are now almost commonplace even in urban areas, searching for food in a shrinking habitat.

Their attacks against herons link two species, each of which has an emotional significance for humans: Bald eagles are proud, fierce symbols of the country. Great blue herons, named official bird of Seattle in 2003, have what bird-watcher Danny O'Keefe calls "a certain kind of meditative grace."

Particularly during the breeding season, now under way, heron watchers report seeing eagles chasing herons off their nests, then preying on the eggs and hatchlings left behind.

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