Click through the slideshow above of photos taken by Jo Fields on February 7, near the Bob Brown Field Station in Warner Park. But beware, you will witness the moment of death for an unfortunate opossum.
Fields (who has done some lovely nature photography in her free time) says she was driving down Highway 100 and noticed someone had gotten out of the car with a cell phone pointed toward a tree at — of all things — a bald eagle. Fields and her husband didn't even stop the car. But after realizing how rare it is to see the iconic predator in Warner Park, she returned armed with her professional camera.
The eagle was perched on a tree overhanging Highway 100 then swooped into the field to snatch a opossum in its talons. Fields says by this point, a little crowd had gathered to watch.
"The eagle then got nervous about all the attention and tried to take the ‘possum with him, but it was too heavy, so he deserted his prey and flew off," Fields recalls.
Being a big supporter of Warner Parks, Fields says she marched directly to the nature center to show off her pics and offered to also share them with the world. You're welcome.
The director of the Warner Parks Nature Center says there are records of an eagle flyover from several years ago, but nothing like this.
"As far as our records indicate, this is the first sighting of a bald eagle that is on land in Warner Parks," Vera Vollbrecht writes in an email. "Sightings of bald eagles are rare in Warner Parks, especially on the ground eating an opossum."
The winter months are peak season for bald eagles in the state, with the greatest populations to the northwest of Nashville, from Dover to Reelfoot Lake near the state's western edge. While some live in Tennessee year round, others migrate from colder climates from November-February.
The North American bald eagle population declined to a precarious number in the mid-twentieth century, due to reproduction problems caused by the now-banned pesticide DDT. The species was removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species in 2007 and has seen significant population gains in Tennessee since then.