Late January, 2005

Wintering Eagle

There are few sights in the wild that thrill me as much as seeing a bald eagle. The bald eagle is the symbol of our country, but for me it symbolizes a lot more. Its fierce, majestic beauty to me means freedom and independence but also it means a wild, healthy environment, the hope for recovery, the responsibility, wisdom and need to protect animals, areas and people that can't protect themselves.

Where I live we do have bald eagles throughout the year, but in winter the ranks swell as birds migrate from further north. Fish are an integral part of the diet of eagles and in winter they are rarely found far from open water. Which is exactly what draws eagles to my area. I live a short ways from a river that has national designation as a Wild and Scenic River, and the eagles come to perch and fish along the river.

Eagles like to perch at spots that give them a vast view of open water. Eagles only weigh a twentieth of a human, and yet have eyes that are larger than ours, and can see several times better than us. Their eyesight is so keen that they can sit up on a tree and see fish, under the surface of the water, several hundred yards away. I frequently see eagles on perches at bends in the river, where they can easily cover a lot of water.

The eagle that I photographed here was high up on a bluff near the river. In my mind's eye I imagine bald eagles strung out along bends in the river, their white heads like pearls along a necklace. But in reality bald eagles are like a lot of men that I know... in their youth they are not bald, only as they get older do they become "bald" or white headed.

For me, nothing adds to the wildness of the river more than seeing bald eagles.

Rooster Pheasant

Lost Robins?