Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
I am going to brag a little here.  I live in a place that is regularly visited by Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus).  It is a joy every time.  Both this and the next photo were shot from my yard this weekend.  There are two hunting perches, one on each side of the property, that afford them a good view of Skagit Bay.  They come almost every day, announcing their arrival with their chattering calls.  They don't seem to mind if I am working in the yard.  I like believing they feel comfortable and safe here.

They often come in pairs to spend time on the perches.  Sometimes, they just come to loaf.  Spring is courtship season and that also happens in my trees.  Talk about a ruckus when that's going on.  This also involves cartwheeling free falls high over Skagit Bay, with talons locked together.  They don't nest on South Fidalgo.  The actual location of their nests, however, will remain between the the birds and me for their protection.

I have observed three different methods of fishing by the eagles.  First is the "swoop and grab" you have seen in TV nature films.  The second is the less spectacular "kerplunk and heave."  They literally land in the water and float there for a moment, wings splayed.  It's not very dignified, not eagle-esque.  Then they heave themselves back into the air grasping their prize.  Finally, there is "stun and drag" which happens in shallow water.  I have posted photos of this at Fidalgo Island Crossings.

Not every fishing attempt ends with a meal:

One morning last year, I found this 20 inch (51 cm) Humpback Salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) on my front lawn.  I suspected this male in breeding condition was the lost pray of squabbling eagles.  I left it there but when I came home from work, the fish was gone.  In addition to hunting fish, the eagles are also scavengers.

I feel privileged to share habitat with these beautiful birds.  When I built the house, I made the decision to leave as many of the large fir trees as possible.  The eagles' visits are the rewards for that decision.