DEC 27: Adult eating prey on old nest

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DEC 27: Adult eating prey on old nest

This post was updated on .
The eagles have not been seen working on the new nest for the past two days. (Map showing location of both nests is at end of this post). A cold front moved through and it has been rainy and cold with high winds and gusts at times. The new nest does not appear to have suffered any damage. This morning I arrived at 8:15 AM. Luis had already been watching, and Smith arrived right after me. As I walked to the site, Smith saw an adult  fly in over my head towards the east (I did not see it as I was looking west at the roost trees). It then returned westward within a few minutes. Luis suspected it was heading to the old nest and called us over to see that it was eating a prey item in the old nest.   We watched for almost two hours until about 10:15 AM and the second eagle never appeared.

In the past, nest observers reported that the pair sometimes carried prey to a tree to the south along SW 208th Avenue as a staging or "butchering" site before feeding it to eaglets. Eagles also are known to consume prey away from the foraging area in order to keep it from being stolen by other birds or mammals. I could not find any references to habitual use of the old nest for caching or eating prey.

It was difficult to get a good view of the nest through the draping branches and leaves ("needles") of the nest tree. We were not sure but the adult appears to be the male, Pride, based upon the depth of the gape (rictus) of its bill, which did not extend past the middle of his eye. Body shape seemed to be more slender and tapered towards the tail versus the more rotund appearance of the female. These difference are subtle and it is easier to compare the pair when they are together, so I could be wrong.  

Also, the nest may have lost more material. I wonder if they are taking some branches away to the new nest. Not sure whether this practice has been described by researchers. We did see them bring a few branches to the old nest while working on the new one.

The prey item is a fairly large fish: