Where Eagles are as Common as Robins

Wildlife News


Kate Kelly

Posted: July 1, 2010 07:46 PM

For those of us who live in one of the lower 48 states in the U.S.A., the fact that the bald eagle is our national bird seems fitting, but a bit of a reminder of the days when the Western plains were filled with herds of buffalo.

But if you live along the southeastern coast of Alaska, our 49th state, the bald eagle is a common sight. Amazing.

We have just returned from Alaska and while everyone else was watching for the blow of the next whale (also very exciting!), I couldn't take my eyes off the sky, not wanting to miss one moment of an eagle in flight. Our guide navigated our boat past one island that had so many eagles in the trees that if an American flag or two could have been placed around the island, it would have been fully decorated for the Fourth of July.


Further along, two eagles soared and swooped as if they were members of the Air Force Thunderbird Precision Flying Team, and we learned their synchronized flying was part of a very complex mating ritual. Later we passed by a massive eagle's nest and were fortunate enough to see a Mother in Residence. Elsewhere, I kept peering through my binoculars at what seemed to be a brown woodchuck but it remained so still I knew it wasn't a mammal. I turned to a fellow traveler for a consult and learned that adolescent eagles don't get their white head feathers for awhile; it was a teen eagle that had captured my attention. Stunning.

When we returned to the ship, I was grateful for an Internet connection so I could get some answers to my questions about eagles as a symbol of America. As we near the time for Fourth of July celebrations, this is a perfect moment to share with you what I have learned about our national bird, the bald eagle.


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