Imm. Bald Eagle or Golden Eagle

Observers: Phil McGrath
Remote Name:
Date: 04/22/04
Time: 05:14 PM


Recently, while conducting a lek survey up in the Bodie area, I observed an eagle take a male sage grouse. I have described it as an "eagle" because I am not positive if it was an immature bald eagle or a golden eagle. The observation was made at around 6:25 a.m. I believe that it was a immature bald eagle because it had whitish feathers on the back of its head, as if the transformation to the adult color phase was underway. I am not by any means a "birder" and I don't claim to be. Is it possible that a golden eagle can have extremely light feathers on the back of its head and if so are they typically uniform. I ask this because the whitish feathers I observed where not uniform and were very light in color, but only on the back of this eagles head. I sat and watched the bird begin the process of eating the grouse by plucking feathers to get at the meat, however, a small single prop plane flew by overhead and flushed the eagle off its prey. The eagle never returned and two very smart ravens had a great meal. Although I didn't get to watch the eagle finish its meal I truely enjoyed watching these two ravens. Upon approaching the grouse the two ravens were very weary and very alert. While one started to eat on the grouse the other stood back and watched, then they would switch every so often. I assumed they were watching out for each other and could respond fast enough if the eagle were to come back. It was just a fascinating sequence of events and was asked by a friend if I'd share my story and hopefully get some feedback about the eagle.