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SequimBob2 On March - 18 - 2011

After a frustrating day of watching Republican ‘termites’ boring incessantly into the heart-wood of America, I amuse myself by chasing our country’s national symbol and asking if I can take their photograph.

It wasn’t too long ago that these amazing creatures were almost wiped out as a result of DDT. Fortunately, they have made a great comeback. Every time I hear Republicans wanting to do away with the EPA, I think about what might have been. What if this photo were all that remained of our national symbol?

If you live in an area where eagles are not a common sight, let me share a couple of facts. An adult’s wingspan will reach eighty inches (two meters) in length.  The head and tail feathers do not turn white until around their fifth year.

The eagle’s voice (or call) is a high-pitched, rapid chirping or trilling sound. For you movie buffs, when Hollywood shows an eagle soaring overhead, they often dub in the sound of a hawk whose call is much more impressive than an eagle’s. (Imagine John Wayne sounding like Truman Capote and you have the gist of it.)

There is (or actually was) a great eagle nest near where I live in Sequim, Washington. I’ve watched the eagles raise chicks in the nest each year. Truth be told, these chicks are ugly.  SNARK ALERT: (But unlike Sarah P and Michelle B, these ‘chicks’ will mature into something impressive.)

Eagle parents are surprisingly attentive and doting. Once the chicks hatch, they grow fairly rapidly and the parents have to fish hard to keep up with the young ones’ appetites.

Sadly, the tree that housed the nest fell down this year. The eagles rebuilt about two hundred yards away, but they did not do a very good job. Half the nest has fallen away. Still waiting to see if it they are going to attempt to use the nest. They haven’t abandoned the new nest, but neither have they performed any repairs.

Eagles are in any case extremely resilient and hearty.  The one on the left has lost an eye, perhaps to a misguided hunter.  I’m told it can no longer hunt since its perspective is now “off,” but it is a survivor.  Eagles scavenge a good deal and the one with the injury appeared healthy.

Eagles are also big — sometimes it is hard to appreciate how big until you place it next to something whose size is a bit more familiar.

It was fun (and amusing) watching last year’s “chicks” while they were learning to fly.  Lesson 1:  Talons will fit around tree limbs.  Talons will not fit around a two-by-six.  (Not to worry.  Nothing was injured but this bird’s pride.)

Eagles do not start out as masters of the air.  Angles of approach, wind conditions, are all flying lessons they have to learn the hard way – like the rest of us, I suppose.

Eagles are social creatures.

They are also loving creatures.   This mated pair often watch the sunset together every evening… and have cocktails.  OK, OK, they’re watching for food.  But work with me here.

That’s it.  It is time for me to sail off into the sunset.

Thanks for letting me introduce Sequim Eagles into the rousing political debate.  And remember to vote non-Republican — if not for me, (insert sympathetic and patriotic music here)… do it for the eagles.

Written by SequimBob2

Retired guy. Southerner by birth. Pacific Northwesterner by choice. Political junkie. Fiscal conservative. Social liberal. Writer. Avid photographer.

58 Responses so far.

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  1. JackRusselTerrier says:


  2. KillgoreTrout says:

    SB2, Amazing photos of amazing birds. I loved the line about John Wayne sounding like Truman Capote. Too funny. Gore Vidal once said of Capote’s voice, “Imagine what a Brussel Sprout would sound like, if a Brussel Sprout could talk!”

  3. ADONAI says:

    Love eagles. Not a big fan of the current Endangered Species Act though. It needs some tweaking. I like animals but not more than humans.

  4. Smedley Butler says:

    Nice Post!

    I’m a Washington resident located near Mt Rainier, we have eagles as well as other predatory bird species here such as hawks and owls .

    I the course of my travels I became aware that the local fish hatchery’s discard hundreds of pounds of salmon and thousands of pounds statewide. I’m working to ensure that these reach local food banks instead of being discarded both reducing the cost to discard the salmon and providing low income people with healthy edible fare.

    On one visit to a hatchery with my daughter we were made aware of a nesting pair of barn owls. We were told they were located directly above where we were sitting and asked if we would like to see their nest.

    I thought this might involve a ladder but with two clicks of a mouse we where watching the goings on in the nest. The fun thing is that you can too! Here’s a live feed for the “Owl Cam” I hope some of you enjoy it as much as my daughter and I have.

    http://wdfw.wa.gov/wildwatch/owlcam/video_barnowl.html

    • Smedley, thank you!

      I have always had a thing for owls. Not exactly sure why.

      My other favorite is the plucky survivor, the chickadee. I was very excited a number of years back when there was a push to name the chickadee as the Michigan state bird (because they stay in Michigan year-round, unlike the current state bird, the robin).

    • SequimBob2 says:

      SB: Clicked on the link just in time to watch Mom devour a mouse. As she adjusted on the nest, also got to see the little one. What a treat! (Seeing the little one… not the mouse.) Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. PocketWatch says:

    Bob -- Nice pix! I have always found that animal photography one of the hardest things to do. They don’t ever pose for you. Patience IS a virtue.

    I have that same camera outfit, except for the 300mm lens. For those that think that a camera like that is hard to use, BTW, it is not. As in most photography, I take “insurance” shots in terms of exposures, but I find that most of the time, the AUTO setting works very well. Really just point and shoot for most normal things.

    As for eagles, I grew up in northern Wisconsin, and our deer hunting territory had a large old-growth white pine tree with TWO eagles’ nests in it. It was one of our landmarks. During the summer, when we would be fishing for muskies or northerns on the Wisconsin River, eagles and osprey were a very common sight. In fact, there were times when we were pitching large suckers for bait (muskies are a large fish and need large bait), we had to be careful because the eagles would literally divebomb the bait in the air as we casted. Not good to get a huge treble hook into a bald eagle! We always fed them the crippled baitfish at the end of the day and watched them swoop and pick up 12″ suckers on the surface 10 yards from the boat. A nice way to end the day…

    • Thefoxislaur says:

      Butternut Lake on a warm Summers eve as the eagles soar from numerous nests, it’s majestic. The muskie fisherman on that lake concur with you I’m sure.

    • SequimBob2 says:

      PW -- You struck several chords. In a few weeks when the migratory eagles are passing through, I will be “chumming” with frozen herring. The gulls pick up the herring and the eagles swoop in to take it away from the gulls. A gull will hold onto the fish no more than five seconds after an eagle “locks on” in pursuit. Gulls are, therefore, not too dumb.

      I was out fishing one day with my father in law using a top bait rebel minnow. An owl swooped down, grabbed it and took off. I had no desire to hook an owl (and certainly not an eagle) and was glad when the lure slipped out from its grasp without harm.

      I chose the 300 prime over the 100-400. It was $300 cheaper and reportedly provided sharper images. There have been times, however, when the critters get so close as to literally over-fill the frame. That’s rare, however.

      Thanks for sharing.

  6. Chernynkaya says:

    Wonderful post, Bob! GREAT photos and delightful writing too.

    I live in Long Beach, a suburb if Los Angeles. It is in no way rural, but near us they have taken a portion of the concreted LA River and turned a few miles of it into a bird sanctuary. They planted all native vegetation and made a natural river. It has a trail that loops around and I walk my dog there every day. We always see Snowy Egrets and Blue Herons among many other birds--and lots of ducks. Also, several coyotes--which are larger and more beautiful than I knew.

    Last year, as we were just getting to the bend, I saw another woman with her dog standing still on the trail. She whispered to me to hold my dog back. As I approached, I saw a Golden Eagle standing in the middle of the trail, eating a small critter. It seemed huge to me--about 2 feet high. We watched as it non nonchalantly ate. It was a real thrill. I had never seen an eagle so close before. (We were only about ten yards away.)

    I didn’t think to snap a pic will my cell phone, but here’s what it looked like, although the one I saw was pure brown:

    [img][/img]

    Thanks for the great post!

    • SequimBob2 says:

      Cher:

      Thanks for replying and the kind words. If you have a free moment, please check out the following URL: http://bobbyc.smugmug.com/Animals/Birds/Color-Flight/16242950_cGArz#1220195408_Fi8Sv

      At the end of the gallery are several (I think) unusual Heron pictures. I’ve gotten them eating fish before, but not this particular meal.

      Wife-mate and I spent 15+ years in OC and San Diego counties before retiring to Sequim. She actually worked at the old Long Beach Naval Hospital.

      Thanks for sharing the eagle pic. It’s nice, especially in a built-up area, to still be able to enjoy nature. Glad you’ve got the walk you described.

      Bob

      • Chernynkaya says:

        Bob--your photos are outstanding! Very professional. First, peacocks are ridiculously perfect and unreal looking. But the egrets are amazing. I’ve never seen them eat a snake; only the small fish in the river. Beautiful.

        In the summer, we see very small and very bright red birds (with black markings on their heads and possibly under their wings) by the hundreds that perch on the rushes in the river. I have looked online to try to identify them, but haven’t. Any ideas?

        • SequimBob2 says:

          Possibly a Vermillion Flycatcher. Males are red with a dark line crossing the eye.

          Let me know.

          • Chernynkaya says:

            Bob--that could be it! Size, shape and color are right, but in my memory they don’t have all-black wings. However, that might be just because, in their numbers, I was distracted by the bright color. I am 90% sure you got it right though!

            [img][/img]

            • jkkFL says:

              Cher! awesome little bird- how beautiful!

              We gotta convince the powers that be to give us a nature section and sunday magazine!

  7. TheBlovicator says:

    Thanks SequimBob2 for these truly wonderful photographs. I loved both the chance to see these birds “up close” and the running commentary. It made for an inspired posting about nature and a poignant story about conservation/taking care of this planet.

    I too am an aspiring photographer and recently purchased the Canon T2i. I’d love to have the 300L IS lens w/the 1.4 teleconverter, but alas, I only have the 70-200L non-IS lens, which means I have to get very close to any animals to get a great picture (like yours). You have inspired me to start my ‘rainy day’ fund to purchase maybe a used 300L. I love sharp pictures. You really should start a nature section. What is more appropriate than learning about our planet than inspiring pictures of it.

    That is my POV. the blov

    • SequimBob2 says:

      Blov: Thanks for the feedback. Wasn’t sure how the post would be received — sorta like pictures of grandkids. Of course, eagles are the cutest creatures on the planet — at least to me. :-) Glad their are others out there who share my affection for the birds.

      IS certainly improves one’s game. I really like the 300mm lens — for what that’s worth. I posted a URL link to my smugmug site if you want to see the photos in a larger format and judge for yourself. The bird photos were taken with the 300 or an 18-200.

    • jkkFL says:

      Hey AB, there really is a Blov!

      Here’s the eagle I was looking for:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94BRFWs4y1o

      *edit: another wonderful bird to look for is the Osprey. They are very urban, and widely spread over the world. They are also known as the fish hawk.
      (Scroll down for everything you ever wanted to know!)
      Cornell is majorly ‘bird oriented’. If you’re a bird lover bookmark this site!
      http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/osprey/id

      • AlphaBitch says:

        jkk: the FIRST bird I ever “watched” was an osprey! The year was 1971. I will never ever forget it.

        See? the hub is not pretend OR imaginary (there is a difference -- I pretend Raul Malo is my boyfriend and singing to me; we’ve met several times through mutual friends. I imagine Johnny Depp and George Clooney are my boyfriends; I’ve never met them, nor do I have any hope of doing so. See the diff?)

        The Blov, OTOH, is real flesh and blood. He’s met me. We’ve been together 29 years. There are times, I suspect, when he IMAGINES a different life but he can’t PRETEND he doesn’t know me…….

        • jkkFL says:

          @AB- if you’ve been together for 29 years; I’m thinkin it might work :)
          Ospreys and Eagles are Huge birds.
          Being nearsighted- that works well for me!!
          When you go to KSC, with ospreys, eagles and alligators, it’s easy to imagine yourself as lunch for any of them!!
          As for the other imaginary stuff- no harm done unless you talk in your sleep!
          We all have our ‘ideals’!
          My companion is an 11 lb cat named Sam- (he’s easier to love than the ex!)
          Gotta go- ice cream truck is here! :) :)

    • kesmarn says:

      I realize this is O/T, but I have to ask:

      Do you by any chance happen to be acquainted with a charming lady who goes by the paradoxical name of AlphaBitch?

      😀

  8. HelenWheels says:

    Thank you so much for this fantastic post! How cool! I’m an animal nut, and of course that includes birds. I get to see big hawks in Griffith Park up the road and am always awe-stricken by them. You are correct in that their call is very impressive.

    These photos are awesome.

  9. ScottyBob says:

    Thanks SequimBob2 for these wonderful photographs.

    I was told as a child that eagles once flew on the Yadkin River near where I lived. But I never saw one in the wild till I was 50 years old. Growing up in western North Carolina as the original Opie, I canoed the river and knew it well. I was familiar with the wildlife. At 37 years old I moved away and only returned to the river during vacations.

    A few years back my friends who live there began reporting sightings of eagles. I was hopeful to see them, of course in my mind Eagles were circling in flocks waiting for me to visit. But in reality, they were elusive for several years in a row. Then suddenly on my last trip home I was sitting on the river just downstream from the East Bend when I heard the unusual call you described. I looked to see a magnificent eagle flying down river, over my canoe and on it’s way. I suppose it’s nesting area is somewhere in the Pilot Mountain State Park. I knew eagles were there but seeing is believing!

    http://www.yadkinriverstory.org/yadkin.html

    • SequimBob2 says:

      Scotty: Thanks for sharing the Yadkin River Story. Great photos and narration. I enjoyed it. Good luck with your eagle sightings. And you are correct, half the time I hear the eagle before I see it.

  10. Mightywoof says:

    How lucky you are to live up close and personal with those magnificent birds, SB!! I got hooked on eagles in ’06 when an eagle cam became big news in Canada -- there were a couple of cams -- one on Hornby Island (although that nesting pair were unsuccessful and laid no eggs that year) and the other at Sidney on Van. Island. The latter pair successfully raised two eaglets and it was an amazing thing to watch them through the weeks until they finally took first flight! The Sidney cams are still running and can be seen on Wild Earth TV (be warned -- this is very addictive and you may never be heard from again :roll: )

    http://www.wildearth.tv/hancock-sidney-1

    http://www.wildearth.tv/sidney-eagle-nest-02

    One is a closeup and the other is a wide angle …. I just checked the forum devoted to discussing the minutae of this nest and apparently there are three eggs laid March 7 14 and 21 -- if you’re interested here’s the link ……….

    http://www.hancockwildlife.org/forum/viewtopic.php?showtopic=38235&mode=&show=25&page=152

    Your photos are stunning SB …… I particularly like the second and third one although I hate to single out any of them as they’re all so good ……… and I echo the sentiment of others that your commentary was excellent!!

    I live in SE Ontario next door to Toronto, and I only ever get to enjoy eagles through webcams and pics! Thankyou very much for sharing these

  11. Buddy McCue says:

    Wow, I didn’t know they were that big.

    Great pictures.

  12. oldpol2 says:

    Great pix, SB. I live on the Nooksack River with a nesting pair just across from my beach. That nest is a constant thrill for me. my camera though, is a little point and shoot and your work is perfection. Thank you so much for sharing. My prize bird pix are of barn swallows who set up housekeeping just out of reach of my screen door. We watched from the building of the nest( on top of my garden gloves) to the fall flight to California. Cheering each new accomplishment as the summer wore on. Sharing nature up close and personal is certainly a priveledge.May we always prevail in the fight against the EPA by the dunderheads on the right!

  13. jkkFL says:

    @SB2 Eagles!
    YAY :)
    FL is blessed! Bald eagles are a common sight here.
    For those of you who don’t have that blessing, here is a link to eagle sounds:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlq2kcYQcLc

    We always stop to watch the eagle soar whenever we hear one..

  14. Truth says:

    Thanks SequimBob, what a wonderful article and excellent pictures. Marvelous!

    ***Edit: yes, narration would be a good word to describe it.

    This would be an excellent piece for a yet-to-be-created Nature section, which I have suggested yesterday after seeing PW’s photos.

    • HelenWheels says:

      I couldn’t agree more, especially as currently nearly ever nature story ties into the EPA or climate change. I think that’s a great idea. It would certainly bring me back here even more often. :)

    • SequimBob2 says:

      Truthster: Many, many years ago my wife and I took a cruise to Alaska. As soon as we got off the ‘boat,’ we hailed a taxi and told the driver we wanted to go see eagles. He took us to the town dump. (Do I know how to show a girl a good time or what?) I’ve been hooked ever since.

      I really, really like your idea of the Nature Section. Psst… AdLib, are you listening in? Hint-hint. We have a second on the motion.

      Near where I live is the Olympic Game Farm. It’s a home, for among other things, retired actor animals. (Not kidding. The bears will stand up and wave at you as you drive by.) They have lions, tigers and bears (oh, my) and yes, eagles. Whenever one of their sheep or elk dies, they toss the carcass in a large pit behind the farm. The eagles collect in droves — as many as 35 ringing the pit in the Spring during migration season. They take turns swooping down and adding a bit of red meat to their diet. It makes for a great flight demonstration for the not-to-squeamish — and an even better photo-op.

      • Truth says:

        Bob, I’m glad that so many people love the idea of a nature section!

      • AlphaBitch says:

        I heartily third that nature suggestion!

        I’m the kinda girl who’s been to the Brownsville TX dump, dude -- and who WANTS to go back! No eagles, but loads of migratory birds.

        Ever seen the chachalaca????? (Yes, they exist for you non-birders)

        My spouse, the Blov (an extremely rare sighting here or on any blogs) will love this and MIGHT even comment.

        We lived in Redmond WA for years, and went to the peninsula often. Sequim had a restaurant with big old apple pancakes, which we loved. We often went to La Push; I have a great photo of us as “Hoh-Heads”, which I will try to scan and load today. Sat on a moss covered log just a bit too long……became a society of Hoh-Heads.

        (Bob will get it…)

        Thanks for this. Lovely way to start the morning.


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