Raccoon gives Hays eagle a scare


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Nature’s way can be savage.

Wednesday night a raccoon invaded the bald eagle nest on a hillside in Hays and tried to snatch the three incubating eggs.

The encounter was captured in live close-up night-vision video and audio by a high-tech camera donated by the Murrysville-based PixController company in partnership with the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Bald eagle protects eggs from predatory raccoon

One of the bald eagles nesting in Hays fended off a raccoon attempting to get to the birds' eggs. (Video courtesy of PixController; 2/27/2014)

In a dramatic video clip, the female eagle appears to be sleeping, then reacts to an apparent sound. The young raccoon, substantially smaller than the adult eagle, crawls into the nest. As the screech and rumble of a passing locomotive rises in volume, the eagle turns, backs up a step, spreads her wings and attacks, driving the raccoon over the edge and away from the nest. Despite the brief skirmish, neither the eggs, the eagle nor raccoon appeared to be damaged.

Generally nocturnal, raccoons see well in low light. They are opportunistic omnivores that scavenge human trash and carrion, prey on small aquatic and land-based animals and eat plant material. In the spring and early summer, when many bird nests are active, raccoons often use their hyper-sensitive five-fingered paws to clutch and steal eggs.


John Hayes: jhayes@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1991.

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