Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Bald eagle predation on common loon egg

September 1, 2010

The Common Loon (Gavia immer) must defend against many potential egg predators during incubation, including corvids, Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus), raccoons (Procyon lotor), striped skunk (Mephitis mephitis), fisher (Martes pennanti), and mink (Neovison vison) (McIntyre 1988Evers 2004McCann et al. 2005). Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) have been documented as predators of both adult Common Loons and their chicks (Vliestra and Paruk 1997Paruk et al. 1999Erlandson et al. 2007Piper et al. 2008). In Wisconsin, where nesting Bald Eagles are abundant (>1200 nesting pairs, >1 young/pair/year), field biologists observed four instances of eagle predation of eggs in loon nests during the period 2002–2004 (M. Meyer pers. comm.). In addition, four cases of eagle predation of incubating adult loons were inferred from evidence found at the loon nest (dozens of plucked adult loon feathers, no carcass remains) and/or loon leg, neck, and skull bones beneath two active eagle nests, including leg bones containing the bands of the nearby (<25 m) incubating adult loon. However, although loon egg predation has been associated with Bald Eagles, predation events have yet to be described in peer-reviewed literature. Here we describe a photographic observation of predation on a Common Loon egg by an immature Bald Eagle as captured by a nest surveillance video camera on Lake Umbagog, a large lake (32 km2) at Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge (UNWR) in Maine.

Publication Year 2010
Title Bald eagle predation on common loon egg
DOI 10.3356/JRR-09-72.1
Authors Stephen DeStefano, Kyle P. McCarthy, Tom Laskowski
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Raptor Research
Index ID 70156088
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Leetown