Empty Nest

In the neighborhood where I lived not so long ago, we had our own Bald Eagles' nest.  It is invisible from the ground.  It's possible that the people living in the houses at the base of the tree are unaware of its presence.  These days, if you own property that hosts an eagle's nest, you might not be allowed to build there.  In this case, the houses were there first.  The birds came and built a nest right over them.  Seattle hosts several nesting pairs within the city limits.  It might be a myth that eagles won't tolerate humans living in their nesting areas.

If you know where to go and look, the nest can be observed, but it still isn't easy.  You must venture onto private property.  My neighbor kept me up to date on the goings-on there with reports and photos.  We knew there were two youngsters in the nest this year.

In early morning August 1, I returned to the old neighborhood.  I went hiking on Kiket Island in the Kukutali Preserve.  It's common to spot eagles in the trees on the east end of the island.  Sometimes there was one, other times a pair would be there together.  I always assumed they were the neighborhood birds that I dubbed George and Martha.  These are the same eagles that spent time perched in the trees in my yard.  I watched them fly across the bay to Kiket and Skagit Islands frequently.  I also watched them catching fish in Skagit Bay.  I was witness to their aerial courtship acrobatics, as well as their intimate moments low in the trees outside my kitchen windows.

This time, I caught sight of a juvenile in the snag next to Kiket Island Road.  I could tell it was young.  It still bore remnants of the yellow gape flanges of a hatchling on its beak.  This would indicate it hatched this spring so I felt confident it was one of the neighborhood youngsters.  I wondered where its sibling was.

As I continued past the snag, I spotted the sibling perched on the shady side.  It looks like both hatchlings are doing well and venturing out on their own now.  The parents were nowhere to be seen.

Western Washington hosts one of the largest concentrations of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in the lower forty-eight states.  Still, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to observe a nesting pair up close year around.  Now that I have moved away from that neighborhood, I was most pleased to catch site of the nestlings on this hike.