In the united states, bald eagles are the quintessential symbol of liberty, soaring wild and free above towering mountains and pristine lakes. But in Vancouver, Canada, the stately birds apparently have no qualms about slumming at the local dump.
Ornithologists discourage a rush to judgment. According to an Environment Canada study published in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology this fall, bald eagles favor the 10-hectacre Vancouver landfill not for its all-you-can-eat buffet of garbage, but for the shelter it provides from the bitter winter weather blowing in from adjacent Boundary Bay. In fact, the study found that garbage comprised only 10 percent of the birds' diet and that only two of 11 eagles tagged spent a significant amount of time at the landfill. But the warmth from the decomposing garbage, lack of human activity and the windbreak provided by the surrounding trees make it an irresistible winter retreat, where the eagles spend 91 percent of their time resting, not eating.
Benjamin Franklin, who famously posited the turkey as our national bird, would surely appreciate the eagles' pragmatism.
Source: Vancouver Sun