The Bald Eagle has an impressive 80-inch wingspan. The Ring-billed Gull, a mere 17.5 inches. The eagle is four and one-half times larger than the gull, has talons, and a hooked beak; the eagle wins in any contest against a defenseless gull.
I was at Bond Park the other day with a new birder I had just met, and as we walked along the Lake Trail on the south side of the lake, a subadult Bald Eagle appeared over the little finger of the lake on the southwest side. It hovered impressively over the gull that sat nonchalantly on the water. It was cold and windy and the lake was choppy.
I’m not sure the gull was aware. It seemed unconcerned. The eagle made a pass and pulled away. Another pass and the same thing, the eagle shrinking back from attacking. Again, a third swoop and another retreat. I wasn’t sure the eagle knew what it was doing. Its actions seemed tentative, ineffective. And the gull was unperturbed.
But then it happened. The eagle swooped low and, with ease, plucked the gull from the lake as we watched stunned. Thankfully, Caroline had a camera and snapped this photo: