Draw to a Pair
I was at the Kukutali Preserve once again this morning. It has become a favorite spot for wildlife viewing. Not only is it close to home, seasonal crowds can still be avoided here. I have also found a back road route between my house and the Preserve. I can get there easily without traffic or stoplights.
From the parking lot, visitors hike along the causeway to Kiket Island. I have learned to check the tallest trees along at the east edge of the island, especially one just north of the road. This is a favorite hunting and loafing perch used by Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Between 8:00 and 8:30 in the morning is the best time to spot them in my experience. The sun is also in the perfect position for photos.
This morning, it was not difficult to find this fellow. Just like the eagle that visits my yard, he was engaged in a continuous monologue of screeching and chattering. I wonder if he was proclaiming, "this is my place in the world." Right-click the photo to view it full size and notice the white spot in the middle of his breast. Could this be the same bird that visits my yard every day? Could this be George?
I continued my trek onto Kiket Island. As I started to pass under the trees that overhang the road, there was another big ruckus right over my head. A gull was chasing and harrying an eagle. I headed back to the causeway and found this second bird perched on the south side of the road. This eagle was larger, so I think this could be the female mate to the bird in the first photo. This was the first time I saw two eagles together on Kiket Island. If the first bird really is George, this would have to be Martha.
It is not uncommon to see eagles chased and bothered by smaller birds. Crows, gulls and even sparrows will try to run them off. The eagles usually yield to the harassment. I have never seen them fight back or show any kind of aggression toward their smaller troublemakers. So much for the "bird of war" myth.
There are two eagle nests on Kiket Island. This one can be seen from the main road. Eagles might have several nests in their territory and rotate among them from year to year. One theory is that leaving a nest unoccupied for a season will clean it of parasites. Another nest, which is currently occupied, is just up the road to the west of me. This is a new nest recently built right in the middle of a residential area. This is testament to why many of us leave the big trees standing when we build homes.
I continued on out to the west end of the Preserve via the North Trail. I was on the south beach near Flagstaff Island when this eagle flew past heading east. Is this one of the pair I spotted earlier?
This is the Kukutali Preserve, Kiket and Flagstaff Islands as seen from my home. What a privilege it is to live so close to this microcosm of the wild Pacific Northwest. The pair of eagles I watched this morning is just one example of the amazing things this little preserve has to offer.