Author Topic: The Hornby Island Eagles' Diet: Midshipman Fish  (Read 17209 times)

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Offline madrona

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The Hornby Island Eagles' Diet: Midshipman Fish
« on: March 15, 2010, 03:07:13 PM »

During nesting season, mostly when chicks are in the nest and being fed, you will note that tide and time influence the daily routine of Mom and Dad Hornby.

Every day sees two low and two high tides, with one often being much lower or higher than the other. During the summer months the low tides occur during daylight hours which is important because the eagles do a lot of foreshore foraging for fish, especially during the very low tides.

Mom Hornby flying over rocks and along the weedbeds at the water's edge

The Hornby eagles primarily eat fish, and are often opportunistic hunters, sometimes taking advantage of and stealing from the crows or seagulls on the beach, and turning over rocks and weed to expose stranded fish waiting for the tide to turn. From the nest, at low tide, we can hear some of these exploits, with sounds of much commotion and shrieking and cawing coming from the beach.

Dad Hornby at water’s edge with fish in beak. A crow can also be seen searching for food.

Below see one of them flying low over the water and then dropping down into the shallows where they will sometimes grab a fish.



This pair has delivered many fish species to the nest, including ratfish, dogfish, herring and salmon, but one of their staples is a fish that surprised us all the first time we heard it. Yes, the midshipman fish, found in the weeds and beneath the rocks at low tide on Hornby, is able to vocalize. They hum! Click to see Cornell News Humming Fish Study Sometimes this can be heard when one is delivered to the nest. Mom is seen in the picture below with a Midshipman in her beak en route to the nest.

The eagles also appear to prefer times for foraging on the beaches when less human activity takes place, so on busy summer weekends you might notice less instances of prey being brought to the nest.

(All Photos Copyright boonibarb)

Hum Along With Male Plainfin Midshipman Fish - Listen Now (click) to a sound clip from "Wild Sounds" — short stories that take you to remote parts of the world to hear the sounds of rare animals. Biologist Andy Bass of Cornell University explains what makes the plainfin midshipman fish hum.
« Last Edit: June 30, 2011, 08:59:19 AM by madrona »
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