"Tranquility Base Here..."

This summer, Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) have been making regular visits to the hunting perches in my yard.  They don't appear to be hunting.  Mostly, they just seem to be loafing.  I wonder if they come to take a break from the kids.

I always know when they are around.  They announce their arrivals with their chattering calls.  "Hey Dave, come out and take our picture."

Recently, they have been coming in pairs.  This is George and Martha, I believe.  Since Bald Eagle females are larger than the males, Martha would be on the right.

Did you know that "bald" in their name does not mean hairless.  It comes from Middle English ballede referring to white on the heads of animals, as blazes on horses.  The Indo-European base word is bhel, "white," which comes into Old German as ballo and Russian as belo.  "Piebald" is a related word.  The scientific name literally means "white-headed" (leucocephalus) "sea eagle" (Haliaeetus).

The Pacific Northwest is one of the remaining Bald Eagle breeding areas in North America.  The conservation status of the Bald Eagle has been downgraded from "endangered" to "threatened" by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service.  The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife also classifies them "threatened."  According to Birdweb, there are currently more than 550 active Bald Eagle nests in Washington.  This includes some within the city limits of Seattle.

High in a Douglas Fir, this is a nearby nest or "aerie" which is not being occupied this season.  Eagles are monogamous, solitary nesters, but a pair might have two or three nests in their territory.  If there is too much disturbance at one site, for example, they can move to another.  It is thought that another reason to switch sites is to allow idle nests to clean themselves of parasites.

The birds will add material to their nests every year.  Over time, they can become huge, sometimes weighing a ton or more.  Sticks form the basic structure.  The nests are lined with softer materials such as leaves, grass, pine needles and moss.

Neil Armstrong from Apollo 11:  "Houston, Tranquility Base here.  The Eagle has landed."

In 1969, I watched the moon landing on television.  Today was the final launch of the shuttle program.  Apparently there is nothing to replace it at the moment.  From the greatest achievement in technology to this.  It is a very sad day in history.


  1. Beautiful photos. We had a lot of eagles down here by our house last winter, but I haven't seen any for a few months.

  2. That's interesting info and what a capture of the pair! My husband's Boston Whaler is named "Tranquility Base"! I'm still down here in the SF Bay Area suffering in the heat. Wish I were up in the PNW spying some eagles.

  3. Hello Mike. I read there are breeding pairs in the lower Columbia. Your birds may be migrants from there or as far north as Alaska. Glad you stopped by.

    Linnea, the warmest here so far has been 71°. Classic Fidalgo weather.

    Thanks to both for the kind words.

  4. George and Martha LOL Must be so wonderful to watch a pair together. Only time a see a bald eagle here is when something is dead. Today watched a hawk.. All the small birds went after him. Then he sat in a tree and as they were bombing him he swooped out and got one. Seeing lots more hawks here now. so many birds and baby birds in the area. Enjoy your bird watching and more. Hugs Carrie

  5. Great pics of the eagles. I'm saddened too by the end of the shuttle program. I'm hoping to still visit Kennedy Space Center on one of my next few trips to Florida.


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