While driving along County Road 87 to the west of Adin CA (Modoc County), Leonard and I noticed what, to us, was an unusual sight. On two adjacent fence posts sat a bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and a common raven (Corvus corax). The raven was eating something and the bald eagle had nothing to eat, yet was not harassing the raven.
Bald eagles are notorious for going after other animal’s catches. They will hound an osprey carrying a fish until the osprey drops the fish, or the eagle will even grab a fish from the osprey’s talons. Eagles pursue vultures until the vultures disgorge their food. At carrion, bald eagles drive away other scavengers. Only ravens are capable of holding their own against bald eagles.
We watched the pair for a few minutes and the eagle never bothered the feasting raven, which made us curious. Why was this notorious food thief not harrying the raven? Perhaps the single raven was a match for the bald eagle. Another possibility is that the eagle was sated. As Oregon ground squirrels become active in the spring, local farmers aggressively hunt the squirrels and leave their corpses in the fields, including the field where the raven and eagle perched. Maybe the eagle was not hungry and thus did not bother the raven’s prize.
Whatever the reason, Leonard and I found it interesting that the bald eagle was not hounding the raven and its meal.