Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Nature Red in Beak and Talon


****WARNING: This UFD may be upsetting to some viewers. This is red, raw nature. Look, a bird’s gotta eat, and when you haven’t got hands, it gets messy. This is a prime example of why I laugh every time someone tells me we should emulate Nature.****

A Bear sent in this majestic bird feasting on a dead sea lion. He speculates it may be a Carniverous Sea Sparrow. Well, it’s brown… I’m putting my money on a mutant seagull, meself. I mean, some seagulls are brown, too, and it’s by the sea, so obviously seagull, right? Setting aside the fact it looks exactly like something in the raptor family and all.

Kidding aside, I find these birds fascinating. Since I was a kid, I’ve always wondered what their meals taste like to them. It looks completely disgusting to me, but what do I know? I haven’t lived that life. Have you ever speculated like that, looked at vultures and birds of prey and corvids and wondered what their preferences are and how they perceive the taste of the things they’re munching?

UFD I. Image courtesy A Bear.

Have I sent you running for the bathroom instead? Sorry!

Scenes like this remind me why, while Nature is pretty nifty, I wouldn’t exactly want to model my life after it in all its particulars. I’ve become far too fond of cooked meals and not having to kill things with my teeth, I suppose.

Gracias, A Bear!

You, too, can have your very own UFDs identified! Just send me a photo or several, with UFD in the subject line, and a description of where the photo was taken. You can find me at dhunterauthor at yahoo dot com.

Comments

  1. Adrian says

    I am not sure about this one. The bill looks too heavy for a Hawk, so I’m going to stick my head above the parapet and say a juvenile plumage Bald Eagle.
    PLease may we have a location for the photo as this may eliminate some species, thanks.

    • davidorr says

      I’m seconding that, though one of the other close relatives is a possibility, too.

  2. rq says

    Carnivorous Sea Sparrow? A bit large for the regular sort of LBB, no?
    Nice shot, what with that ‘who you?’ pose.
    I’m going to give it a guess, since I can’t see its underbelly (to see if it is white). I have two options, since so few eagles and sea eagles have dark-coloured tails:
    a North American subspecies of golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Eagle);
    OR
    the wedge-tailed eagle AKA eaglehawk (Aquila audax – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge-tailed_Eagle)
    Taking into account that the eaglehawk is actually native to Australia and an unlikely import into North America (although who knows) my vote goes to the golden eagle.

    And what IS it feeding on? Seal? I have wondered what that sort of meat tastes like to these birds, but being that kind of bird, I’d probably love it as much as I love cheesecake as a human. Or maybe scavenged meat is like having to eat their vegetables or slightly mouldy bread, and fresh meat is Thanksgiving dinner… Although for vultures, I suppose scavenged meat is absolutely delectable. And do they even care about the taste if it’s sustenance that they require? (Do they think about being vegetarians?) I’m going to stop here otherwise I’m going to write pages and pages of ‘maybes’ and other speculation about what birds of prey think of their meals. My identification is submitted.

  3. says

    I’ll second “juvie bald eagle”. Given that it’s way too big and chunky looking for a hawk, and scavenging stuff on the beach (and sea lion implies west coast, at least in North America). Of course if the picture is from outside North America I throw up my hands in defeat.

  4. fastlane says

    It is potentially also a juvenile golden. It lacks the characteristic golden tinged neck feathers. Also, the tail bad is usually visible pretty early on juvenile goldens, whereas the white head/tail don’t show up on baldies until the 4th or 5th year.

    • A Bear says

      Tail band is one clue I’ll watch for, presumably easy to make out when they’re airborne.

  5. A Bear says

    This shot was taken near home on Vancouver Island, BC Canada during late winter. There are a lot of Bald Eagles around here, but also some Golden Eagles. I am unaware of clues to distinguish between the species during their juvenile stages.
    Incidentally, juvies can sometimes allow you to approach fairly close to them when they are hungry and feeding. This pic was taken from the driver window of my van from a distance of less than 30 feet.

  6. Trebuchet says

    I’ll add my vote for the juvenile bald eagle. It takes about five years, IIRC, to get the full coloration. Certainly not an adult golden.

  7. rq says

    I’m going to leave the decision to the experts. I’m more of a small-birds person, especially considering I’ve never seen a real live eagle. Closest I’ve come is finding an eagle feather at the cottage.

    • Trebuchet says

      Come to the Pacific Northwest. (Of the USA, I don’t know where you are. Or, in the case of A Bear, the southwest of Canada.) We are privileged to see them pretty regularly. I never get tired of it.

  8. Adrian says

    I still stand by my initial ID. The blackish head and lack of brown/gold nape, the smallish head and deep bill all point towards Bald. The primaries look to be close in length to the tail tip inferring a very short tail, another pointer to Bald.

    I have found the site below where the problem is discussed in depth, it certainly isn’t straight forward!

    http://www.hancockwildlife.org/forum/viewtopic.php?showtopic=132018

    • A Bear says

      That link has some good ID tips.
      It mentions that the tarsus aka metatarsus, tarsometatarsus of the Golden is feathered but scaled only in the Bald Eagle.
      In the pictured bird here the tarsus, the fused foot and ankle bone that connects the talons to the tibia is scaled only. If this characteristic holds true with both adults and juveniles it would positively ID this as a juvenile Bald.

  9. ibelieveindog, the silent beagle says

    Late post and slightly OT:

    I live in Central Florida. After one of the hurricanes in 2004, I sat on my front porch and watched a hawk eat an unfortunate something while perched in my oak tree.

    It was both disturbing and beautiful. I watched til it flew away.