The regal Bald Eagle is the national emblem of the United States and has been revered by Native American tribes for hundreds of years. They are fierce, proud and free and it's easy to see why they have been chosen to be a symbol of the American spirit. This eagle was sitting peacefully on the bank of the Nooksack River.
Then he looked right into my camera and into my eyes. What a moment! He saw right through me.
The Alder trees across the river made a beautiful lacy pattern with their vertical trunks and reddish leaves against the firs and hemlocks on the hillside. The reddish dying grasses create the base for this image. There are at least 6 eagles in these trees!
A close up of the Alder tree trunks focuses on the verticality of the pattern, punctuated by one adult and one juvenile Bald Eagle flying together.
This beauty was chowing down on a dead salmon. Some people thought the fish had been placed there by a human in order to create this photo opportunity. Look at those talons! I would not dare mention the mess on his beak.
The Bald Eagle is the second largest bird of prey in North America after the California condor. It derives its name, not for any baldness, but for its conspicuous, white and fully-feathered, head. The colors of the adult bird are balanced by an equally white, flaring tail. I love this image because of the intricate pattern and texture created by the branches and the morning sunlight catching this Eagle in profile.
Spectacular, acrobatic flight displays reinforce the bonds between life-long Bald Eagle pairs. These two were cavorting in the sky over the Samish Flats a few winters ago. They flew directly overhead, their eyes locked and I was able to capture the last shot. I love how the graceful shapes of their wings complement each other and make an interesting negative space in the image.
I hope you've enjoyed my images of Bald Eagles and that you will be able to get out there this winter and spring to have your own Eagle Encounters! Would love to hear about your own experiences or any comments you have. Thanks so much. ~Beth
Western Washington supports a large population of resident Bald Eagles, which make themselves very visible to us as they soar on the thermals, fish the rivers, streams and beaches and hunt small mammals (including small pets) in the agricultural fields and suburbs. Since moving to Whidbey Island, I believe that I have heard an Eagle's territorial squeaking almost every single day of the year, whenever I've paid attention. There is a large nest a block away from our house, east of Oak Harbor, and I keep my formerly outdoor Montana-raised cats safely inside the house now. I love to photograph these huge birds in flight, perched in the trees or hanging out along the waterways.
A Noble Profile at Meerkerk Gardens on Whidbey Island.
These two were captured last summer as my husband Ferd and I motored up the Swinomish Channel.
The winter months bring a huge increase in the Bald Eagle population! A large number of them migrate to this area from their summer breeding grounds in Alaska and Canada, and it is easy to find hundreds of them gathered together to fish and hunt. The Skagit Eagle Festival celebrates this great opportunity to view and learn about our national bird. It is a month-long celebration of the Bald Eagle sponsored by Skagit County with activities taking place in Concrete, Rockport and Marblemount every full weekend in January.
One weekend, Ferd and I drove to the Nooksack River to join the throngs of photographers at the Bridge on Mosquito Lake Road. We arrived at sunrise and, while the eagle activity was relatively subdued and distant on this day, I was able to get some fun images. Their behaviors and interactions are always exciting to watch!
The beautiful Nooksack River view from the Mosquito Lake Road Bridge. There are 6 Eagles in this picture, but I can only see the one at this scale.
The closest fly-by I was able to catch.
I love the spread wings against the texture of the trees.
This beauty was taking some major steps!
He walked along the log a ways, then stopped and fluffed his feathers. Did he have an alarming thought... a sudden realization? Maybe he felt someone watching him?
Then he took off to fly over to the other side of the river for some privacy.
To be continued...
I hope you've enjoyed Part 1 of my Bald Eagle Encounters. Please let me know which is your favorite photograph or comment on your own experiences with these magnificent birds!