An East Vancouver man captured an unlikely animal encounter when an everyday house cat and a majestic bald eagle had a tense faceoff in a park.
Peter Davidson was at the Cunningham Elementary playground, near Nanaimo Street and East 37th Avenue, with his two-year-old son Saturday.
Also at the park was Bruno, his neighbour’s friendly orange tabby.
Then it got a little more crowded: a bald eagle swooped down onto the field to drink from a puddle.
“I noticed the cat checking it out right away,” Davidson said. “I thought they might actually get along.”
Plenty of outdoor cats stalk birds but Bruno apparently has more ambition than most.
Photos and video show the feline cautiously approaching the raptor, back slightly arched and tail twitching.
“The eagle sort of puffed itself up and did sort of a bluff charge or two,” Davidson described.
Fortunately, no animals were harmed in the making of this tale. After a few tense minutes, Davidson said, the eagle flew off.
Bruno chased after it, he added, perhaps claiming victory in the dust-up over a mud puddle.
‘Wasn’t exactly the smartest cat’
Bird expert Rob Hope with the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society says it’s a good thing cats and eagles generally don’t tangle very often.
“Wasn’t exactly the smartest cat on the block,” Hope said after viewing Davidson’s photos and video.
Urban eagles, he said, are generally savvy about domesticated pets and steer clear.
But if the encounter did escalate, he said, perhaps by the cat pouncing, the eagle would either flee or use its talons to protect itself, which “would have been not very pretty.”
“They can defend themselves against anything,” Hope said. “We’ve even seen and had reports of a bald eagle defending itself against coyotes.”
Eagles don’t hunt pets as a rule, he added, but sometimes can mistake kittens or very small dogs as rodents.
He’s glad the eagle decided to chicken out.
“If [the eagle] really wanted to do something in that situation, it definitely could’ve,” Hope said. “It could’ve turned nasty, which nobody wants to see.”