Many people travel hundreds of miles hoping to get a good photo of a bald eagle.
Don Braddy got hundreds of photos and never left sight of his rural Cowley County home.
In mid-December, Braddy placed a remote trail camera on a pile of offal where he shot a buck during deer season earlier that month.
“Coyotes are really thick this year and I wanted to see how many we had,” Braddy said. “I was kind of hoping some eagles would come, but I didn’t expect this many.”
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Triggered by motion, Braddy’s trail camera soon captured the images of five adult and four immature bald eagles feeding on the entrails.
Hoping to prolong the experience, he also dumped assorted pieces of hide and bones left over from processing two deer.
For nine days, Braddy watched the eagles work on the pile of venison scraps about 200 yards from his home.
“There’s a real pecking order with them. If one wants to come down and eat, and it has more seniority, he’ll run the others off,” said Braddy, who also watched crows and coyotes skirt the big birds. “I haven’t found anything around here that messes with eagles.”
Braddy, 51, remembers when bald eagles weren’t seen in the area.
The most he’s seen is three different eagles annually since moving to the rural home on 70 acres in 2005.
Mark Robbins, a University of Kansas ornithologist, said migrating bald eagles often gather in areas where there’s a ready supply of food, such as wildlife refuges.
He mentioned seeing 100 or more a day at a waterfowl refuge in northern Missouri. Many of their meals have long been dead.
“A lot of what they’re feeding on are dead geese,” Robbins said. “They’ll feed on about anything dead — deer, coyotes that have been shot, fish. They’re much more a carrion eater than they are a killer.”