I was on South Lindstrom Lake in Chisago, Minnesota Jigging for walleye from the boat during Thanksgiving break. Fishing was a little slow to say the least. Not a bite with the blue bird day, but I was relaxed and it sure as shootin', beats workin'!
I happened to notice a lone Bald Eagle flying fast at water level. From my vantage point he was maybe 100 yards away and I thought it had the look of intent and determination to get somewhere right now. Sure enough, I looked ahead in his general direction and spotted his target, a floatilla of 20 Coot in deep water. No, that can't be. I thought to myself. It's not going after them is it? As soon as the eagle's cover was blown by the weary guards, the water erupted with flapping wings as the coot dove to elude the swiftly oncoming predator. That's when I got my answer. It's hunting coot!
The eagle flared and went vertical to prepare for another attack, eyes fixated on the water waiting for the coot to reappear. The eagle could see well below the surface of the clear water and it was obvious he had picked a specific target when it flipped inverted, flared and dove for the water just before the coot surfaced. As soon as the coot's head popped up, it realized it's dilemna and dove to to avoid the eagles outstreched talons. The eagle was an instant too late and again pulled up to gain altitude and make another pass. The eagle was relentless, staying on top of the same coot and repeating the process again and again.
This went on for at least 10 or 15 minutes until the coot was so out of breath from barely being able to get air that it succumbed to exhaustion and floated to the surface. The coot being too weak to dive again gave the advantage to the eagle, who swooped in for the final hoorah and flew off with a holiday meal that was almost too heavy to keep airborne. It percivered for a quarter mile and landed in the treetops on shore.
I was really impressed. Not only can eagles catch fish, but when the fishing is poor (like it was for me that day), that bird was wise enough to realize it and switch tactics and go hunting. I should have taken the hint cuz those darn fish had lock jaw.
Givng thanks and watching nature go by