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.

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JackRusselTerrier
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JackRusselTerrier
KillgoreTrout
Member

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!”

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ADONAI
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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.

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KillgoreTrout
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Adonai, it depends heavily on which humans are involved. I can think of many that aren’t as worthy as some other animals.

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Smedley Butler
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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

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2ndClassCitizenPundit
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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).

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PocketWatch
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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…

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Thefoxislaur
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Thefoxislaur

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.

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Chernynkaya
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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]http://www.pattersonimages.net/images/B112-Golden-Eagle.jpg[/img]

Thanks for the great post!

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TheBlovicator
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TheBlovicator

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

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jkkFL
Guest

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

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AlphaBitch
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AlphaBitch

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…….

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jkkFL
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@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! 🙂 🙂

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kesmarn
Admin

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?

😀

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HelenWheels
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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.

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ScottyBob
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ScottyBob

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

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Mightywoof
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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 🙄 )

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

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

Great pictures.

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oldpol2
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oldpol2

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!

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jkkFL
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@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..

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Truth
Member

Thanks for the video, jkk, that was great. If you put a “v” right after http it shows up here…:

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Truth
Member

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.

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HelenWheels
Member

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. 🙂

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JackRusselTerrier
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JackRusselTerrier

Outstanding! Great narration too! I say narration because I feel as if I watched a special on PBS.

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HelenWheels
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I heartily concur!

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