Nature / Travel / USA

Bikin’ With The Baldies

Eagle FI

For many, Sunday is a day to sleep late without the blare of an atrocious alarm clock. And a mug of coffee, the Sunday paper, and PJs are bliss for some. But for us, it’s a quiet, leisurely bike ride around the island. The operative word being quiet. And on our most recent Sunday ride, the early hour and tranquility rewarded us with a birdwatching bonus – an adult and juvenile bald eagle perched by the marsh.

Eagle juvenile

The dark colored juvenile sat on a boardwalk, and given its size and color, I assumed it was a vulture. My peripheral vision caught movement in a tree about 30 yards away, and to my surprise, it was an adult bald eagle.

Eagle closeup

Bald eagles are rare here, and in my year on the Island, I’ve only seen one other. Interestingly, the other “close encounter” was on the same marsh-side street, so I suspect the eagle’s nest is close by. Most people know that the bald eagle is the official emblem of the United States, but you may not know:

  • They are hunter/scavengers that live along the coast as well as by major lakes and rivers.
  • The male and female look similar, but the female is slightly larger.
  • Once paired, they remain together for life.
  • Even though they are primarily fish eaters, they’ll take ducks, birds, or whatever prey is available and easiest to obtain.
  • And their majestic appearance doesn’t make them great hunters – being successful in only 1 of 18 attempts.

Eagle parent juvenile

Happy Trails,

P.S. These photos were only possibly because I happened to have my whizzy new travel zoom camera with me, and it did an excellent job.

17 thoughts on “Bikin’ With The Baldies

  1. Great pictures James! That’s great that you’re catching them every now and then. Up here in Alaska, the population is back to healthy numbers and it’s always fun to try to catch them on camera. Happy weekend!

    • Thanks Laura. We took a wonderful overnight ferry from Juneau to Sitka, and it seemed that every hundred yards there was a bald eagle perched in a treetop. I had never seen so many, and it was very exciting. I read that 50% of all bald eagles in the US are in Alaska, so they’re easier to spot there. But even if I saw them on a daily basis, I don’t think that I’d tire of watching them. ~James

  2. We have a pair of bald eagles nesting in trees at the bottom of the field in the back of our house. They have been there for over l8 years. Each year they add another room to their nest – Last year the nest was so enormous that a torrential rain storm took it down with a loud crash. They rebuilt immediately – I think something post. Living close to the Fraser River the eagles treat it like their local fish market. When our neighbors do the first cut of hay (shortly) they’ll be as many as twenty or more eagles watching for rodents and rabbits as they are flushed from their grass hiding place. It is quite a spectacular sight to see one tree with a dozen or more eagles enjoying their haying lunch.. Virginia

    • Wow Virginia, I am so envious. An eagle’s nest that close would be wonderful to observe and keep track of. I read that their nests can weigh as much as 2500KG, so I bet that it did make a tremendous crash when it collapsed. And I love the story about the eagles waiting on the mowing farmer. I have never heard anything like that before. But all the descriptions that I read on bald eagles said that above all else, they are opportunistic hunters, and will eat whatever is easiest. Another interesting fact is that they can life 4 pounds, so keep your small dogs inside! ~James

    • Thanks for the comment. I lived in England for 3 years, and don’t ever remember seeing an eagle. Are there eagles native to Britain? Bald eagles aren’t that common where we live either, so I’m always excited about a siting. And stumbling on a pair, and being able to get close enough to photograph was very cool. There’s a protected habitat on another island about 10 miles north of us which has 2 documented nests. This pair could have been from one of these nests. Since I’ve encountered eagles twice in this same area, now I know where to look. ~James

      • Well. Now that you come to mention it I obviously had to Google it ^_^ Turns out we have the Golden Eagle up in Scotland. That’s at least 8 hours (by road) away from us and therefore not what I would call *local*. Worth remembering next time we’re up in Scotland though. Magnificent birds!

  3. Each November, over 4,000 American Bald Eagles descend upon Haines, Alaska for the last salmon run on the North American Continent. (Mare and I volunteered as campground hosts in Haines the past two summers) Anyway, a fun fact is that the Baldie gets most of its food during that event by stealing fish from other eagles!

    • Thanks for the comment Ron, and for dropping by the blog. I was in Alaska for the late season salmon run, and can imagine that 4000 eagles gorging on fish must be quit a site. And the food theft is no surprise, given what opportunistic eaters they are. BTW, your road trip sounds like it will be fun. All the best. ~James

What do you think? We'd love to know!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s