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A golden eagle

NATURE takes you to the Highlands of Scotland to see the majestic golden eagle.

Wilderness is elusive in Britain, but in the Highlands of Scotland, the sacred dance between predator and prey is still played out against a rugged and unforgiving landscape. Gliding above this wild land is Britain's most magnificent predator -- the golden eagle.

It is early spring in the Highlands and a young eagle is looking for a meal in the frozen ground below. She senses that a nearby raven may mean a free meal. She is right -- this time. But the odds are still against her. Often hungry, always traveling, harassed by territory-holding adults, this young eagle has only a one-in-ten-chance of reaching maturity.

The eagle comes across a huge flock of barnacle geese, which have fled the Arctic freeze, reaching the temperate islands of the Hebrides. The geese, which number in the thousands, are one of the great spectacles of western Scotland in the winter months. The young eagle doesn't yet know that the element of surprise is crucial to her success in hunting, and the geese take flight, moving in unison across the sky. But there is other prey here: the rabbit. Now she can better test her hunting ability, enhance her survival skills, and learn from her mistakes.

As a young boy Highlander Jeff Watson was mesmerized by a picture of the golden eagle in a deck of cards. Then one day his father took him to see a golden eagle's nest and suddenly the huge bird emerged and swooped low over his head. The encounter made a life-long impression on Watson that led him to study the bird of prey for over 20 years.

Join Jeff Watson in SHADOW OVER THE SUN: A STORY OF EAGLES as he observes the magnificent golden eagle.

SHADOW OVER THE SUN: A STORY OF EAGLES airs on PBS Sunday, September 23rd at 8 p.m. (check local listings). Watch the preview.

View the Production Credits.

In Memoriam - Dr. Jeff Watson

Dr. Jeff Watson, the world's acknowledged expert on golden eagles, died of cancer on September 19, 2007 at his home on the Black Isle, in the Scottish Highlands. He was 54 years old. He had recently been awarded the prestigious Conservation Medal by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in recognition of his outstanding work in nature conservation.

Eagle IQ
What makes a bird a "bird of prey"?
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