Bald is Beautiful

Living close to the Greenbelt along the Boise river we have tremendous opportunity to see a wide variety of wildlife. When we relocated to Idaho, one of the first tips we received was, “Look up!” Why? In Idaho, a large concentrations of bald eagles are found along Lake Coeur d’Alene, Lake Pend Oreille, and sections of the Snake, Salmon, and Boise Rivers.

We were thrilled to see not one, but two bald eagles on a recent jaunt along the Boise river. We heard them before we saw them. One—already majestically perched on a branch in the treetop—was calling to the other circling high overhead. Like greased lightning, he made a downward beeline, flaring his six-foot wingspan just before landing in the same tree as his mate.

I recently learned that in their first four years of life bald eagles are often mistaken for golden eagles because they sport mostly dark brown plumage with only small  amounts of white. Not until their fourth or fifth year does the bald eagle’s head and tail turn all white, indicating that it’s reached maturity.

When you “look up” in your neck of the woods, what are you likely to see?

 

© Laurie Buchanan

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69 thoughts on “Bald is Beautiful

  1. Well as I reported a few weeks ago, I spotted my first Bald Eagle in the wild right here in NJ ! Imagine my joy! Generally there are geese and Blue Heron’s and at the moment sea gulls.

  2. For a moment there, I thought you may be referring to my significant other, Henning! He’s as bald as they come! 😃😜😬

    Last year a huge, glorious eagle flew right above me as I was reading in the back yard. He perched at the top of our 150+ old Oak trees. Then, he pooped on my book! Hee hee! It was beautiful, and funny and a little gross all in one experience.

    Thanks,

    Nicole

    Nicole Lacina 847-778-7484

    Sent from my iPhone. Please pardon any typos/errors.

    >

  3. Good morning, Laurie. It’s funny that you posted about eagles because yesterday I read another blogger post that mentioned eagles in her area (Chesapeake). I was curious about their calls, so I looked it up here: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/bald_eagle/sounds

    As Jeff above says, we do have Bald Eagles here in New Jersey, although I’ve never spotted them. I remember a former boyfriend of my daughter’s mentioning seeing them. A nearby town has a turkey vulture festival every year, but looking up in the sky this weekend, we were seeing snow! 🙂

  4. When I look up I see robins and cardinals perched on our live oaks, many that have migrated south for the winter. I also see fall foliage now, oaks turning russet and ornamental pear trees the colors of sunset. Sometimes we think we see bald eagles when we take boat rides down the Pottsburg Creek. It’s the coolest thing!

  5. Currently, gray skies and bare branches. On the branches are a variety of birds, including doves and cardinals, waiting for the bird feeder to be filled. The woodpeckers peer into our bedroom window that looks over the suet feeder, and nod their head in thanks every once in a while. All is beautiful above and beyond…

  6. One of these days I hope to look up and see the sun, I kind of miss him. As for my winged friends this time of year it’s more than likely going to be a hawk or a Canadian goose!

  7. Only bald around here when I look up is the tree branches. But this morning,first heard then saw birds in the not-too-healthy juniper just outside my living room window. Saw birds moving but as they were hidden by the juniper leaves couldn’t make out what kind of birds No colour so not cardinals or blue jays.

    Still, any birds singing and just showing up in winter brightens the usual gloom of winter here.

  8. I so envy you your abundance of eagles. I’ve seen them in the wild off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. Still on the lookout here … plan to go back to the Burlington (WI) Dam to see the pair that is said to visit there.
    On most days during winter I see grey skies (grey, shades of white, palest blue touches).

    Fortunately we do have various species of birds that stay over the winter months. I particularly enjoy it when I see a pair of cardinals or a hawk flying in a circular path.
    A few weeks ago, as I’ve shared on FB, I experienced a barrow owl, on my way to a night meeting at Glacial Park in McHenry Illinois .. it swooped up from behind just above my car and flew in front of it, it’s wings with a huge span. My first encounter with an owl, it took my breath away for a moment.

  9. We’re fortunate to have a population of Bald Eagles on our small island, as well, Laurie. I can remember seeing my first “baby” Eagle. They do look very different from their parents. And to hear them cry. Well, there’s nothing like it.
    When I look up… Besides birds circling and re-circling as they look for prey, I see trees. On Mayne Island, we have an usual tree. Arbutus sheds its bark not its leaves. So unlike the rest of Canada, Mayne Island is mostly green during the winter. This year we didn’t get even a dusting of snow. But that could change. We’ve received snow as late as March.

  10. This time of year, I see gray skies. But also, as I drive into the town down the road, Bald Eagles perching in the trees and on poles along the lake, and sometimes in the fields. Also many hawks, primarily the Red Tail Hawk, Ravens, and a lot of small birds. Occasionally I will see Bald Eagles circling in the skies over my house along with all the others I mentioned.

  11. Hi Laurie,
    Last year Kaikoura was host to an international conference on seabirds. Most of the scientists present agreed that Kaikoura could accurately be called the seabird capital of the world, though one needs to be at sea to see most of them, one doesn’t need to be far out to sea.

    From the deck of our house the most likely birds to be overhead are small ones, house sparrows, green finches, gold finches, chaffinches, blackbirds, starlings, yellowhammers and some natives get a look in with bell birds, waxeyes and fantails all being common. Swallows flit around most evenings seeking out insects.

    We often see harrier hawks quite close overhead, and occasionally the native NZ falcon – a fearless predator, that has left deep gashes in the scalps of two of my friends who have gotten a little too close to falcon nests. Another friend hates them because they pursued his doves right into his living room and killed them all, one by one. Magpies are the most common predator here.

    We also have occasional visitors to the section. I see dunnock most weeks, and tui, grey warbler, cirl bunting, tomtim, kereru (wood pidgeion), european pidgeons and kingfishers from time to time. Very occaisionally I have seen brown creeper, long tailed and short tailed cockoos on our section. Californian quail are a common visitor.
    Last week I saw a flock of 12 royal spoonbills flying north from the kitchen window – something I see maybe twice a year here in Kaikoura.

    We see red and black billed gulls, and black backed gulls flying overhead most days, and looking out to see I often see Hutton’s shearwater, fluttering shearwaters, caspian, black fronted and white fronted terns. Very rarely do we see albatross from the house, and it has happened a couple of times. To see them regularly you really need to walk about a mile to the edge of the cliffs and look out over the canyon and open Pacific ocean beyond. We have once seen an australasian grebe down in the bay. It stayed for a couple of weeks before going back to the lakes that are its normal home. I love watching the gannets diving from the deck, but haven’t seen any this year – whereas most years I see them most days during summer.

    There are so many species of sea birds common here. Three species of penguin, blue, yellow eye, and fiordland crested in decreasing order of commonness – the blues breed here (both subspecies) (though I have yet to see any of them overhead 😉 ).
    Many species of albatross, petrels and shearwaters can be seen if one spends time at sea. The albatross encounter tours will normally see about 12 different species, and I have seen about 35 all up.

    Then we have all the shore birds. Ailsa has been doing an observation program on the NZ banded dotterel for 3 years. This year we monitored 7 breeding pairs, one of which laid 3 clutches, and 4 of which laid two clutches.
    We have pied and variable oyster catchers, 5 species of shags common here. Then we have the godwits, curlew, turnstones.

    We see ducks and geese and swans periodically. Mallard and paradise ducks are common, grey teal less so.

    I have seen little owls here quite frequently, and have heard the native owl a couple of times.

    I don’t have to walk far to see robins and rifleman (our smallest bird). It’s not a huge hike to the lake to see grebe and many species of ducks and geese and our black swan.

    If one is an interested observer of nature, Kaikoura is an amazing place to live. I have even seen a shark, a whale, and a tuna overhead (or at least in the air not far from me and higher than my head). Had a 14ft Mako shark leap clear of the water about 40 ft away about 12 years ago – a slightly terrifying experience (had it landed on the boat it would have smashed it and sunk us). Have also had whales breech nearby much higher than me (both humpback and sperm whales), and one evening saw school of big bluefin tuna leaping about 15 ft into the air all around me – an awesome sight, and in all my years at sea I saw it only once (june 1980 about 50 miles off Westport), here in Kaikoura I have only seen the smaller tuna species get quite so aerobatic. And I have seen flying fish doing their thing quite often, even had one land in the nets in the boat, proving the lie to one of my dad’s favourite sayings “The only sure thing is fishing is, you can’t catch fish with you gear in the boat” (and it did only happen once).

    • Ted — Oh my blessed word, seabird capital of the world, indeed! I love looking at Ailsa’s photographs on her Facebook page. It’s given me a little flavor of the incredible-ness that you guys are surrounded by! 🙂

  12. I see the occasional bald eagle here, too. There are also hawks and song birds, and geese and ducks. But I think what I love the most is seeing the moon, stars, how the clouds move by, and the newness of light from the sun at this time of year when I first notice the days growing longer.

  13. Laurie, we have had our declining Bald Eagle repopulated. The DNR and Corps of Engineers postioned tall posts, like electrical poles, bearing large platforms for nest building and released mated pairs about 15 years ago. The posts are in our 2 large Corps of Engineers built lakes so they would be away from man and beast, and they have bred and hatched many chicks who now repeat the pattern. In my own stretch of sky, we see red-tailed and Cooper’s hawks, Geese, crows, cardinal, jays, and all migrating birds that fly North and South with the seasons. But today I was surprised to see a Blue bird slipping from tree to tree in my back yard.

    • Sandi — I love that the Bald Eagle population in your neck of the woods is increasing. And the other birds you mentioned offer a nice splash of color, especially the cardinals, jays, and a lone blue bird.

  14. Today was grey skies on the look up, yesterday was that lovely winter blue clear, sunny skies. There was an early Goldfinch on the edge of the roof yesterday. I feel like I must keep my eyes on the ground ahead of me as I walk with my sticks and do not fall down. When I looked down the hill towards the Lake the ducks were gliding to and fro. Last week Canada Geese. When I look down right now, I am amazed at all the bulb starts poking up, Harbingers for sure

  15. Well…first of all the SUN…its always out every day….I read where Yuma is in the Guinness world record book for being the place in the US where the sun shines the most….I also see doves, there are a couple different species here and they in great abundance…..also there are road runners….however I would have to be looking down for them…they seem to live out behind us in the desert and funny little bird….well they are not little….I notice lots of hummingbirds landing on my thorny ocotillo and swallows…I have noticed a couple of raptors soaring over the desert behind us…and we have grackles, they are the same size of crows but have a really long tail and a great scream….the talk a lot….and will actually chase you around for food…LOL enjoying learning the birds of the desert…kat

  16. I bet you were thrilled to see Bald Eagles …how cool is that .
    I look up and see Kites …yes you may well wonder , with the unbelievable high winds we are experiencing in West Wales at the mo , it may well be ‘Kites ‘ of the floaty variety … But you ‘d be very wrong
    Kites of the feathery variety , are what I see , the spectacular birds of pray that frequent our shores ..beautiful .
    Cherryx

  17. Lucky you Laurie! I saw my first bald eagle in the wild last week. I couldn’t believe how excited I was! Almost as excited as seeing 5 bluebirds perched on our birch tree checking out the area for nesting spots. 💕

  18. We are fortunate enough, in our “neck of the woods,” to be on the The migratory path of this magnificent bird. So, there are times of the year when one might look up and actually catch one in flight. But one day, a number of years ago, when I lived in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains, I looked out my kitchen window and saw one perched only a dozen or so yards away. It was a thrill I shall never forget. This glorious bird also inspired one of my favorite poems:

    The Eagle

    He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
    Close to the sun in lonely lands,
    Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.
    The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
    He watches from his mountain walls,
    And like a thunderbolt he falls.

    by Alford, Lord Tennyson

  19. It is wonderful news that the bald eagle is thriving out by you. I know this was a species that was always considered in danger of extinction. Ah, lately when I look up I see the ceiling of this computer room, looking for some new measure of inspiration. i sense you have the right idea Laurie! Great post! 🙂

  20. Oh so much to see. We have had some beautiful sunrises, sunsets, and of course birds and Bald Eagles. I took a picture of one recently along the shore of the Niagara River at the end of our street. Such majestic creatures!

    • Inese — I’ve only seen buzzards (a pair) one time in my entire life; that they’re a common sight for you simply boggles my mind. That’s one of the cool things about traveling — you get to see a multitude of things that are otherwise unavailable for viewing 🙂

      • True. When I go to the US, I get excited over any bird I see 🙂 Magnificent Bald eagle is a good example, or California Quail, Hummingbirds and various Woodpeckers. Even Robin is different! 🙂

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