“For my part, I wish the eagle had not been chosen as the representative of this country. He is a bird of bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly.”
— Benjamin Franklin
Two weekends ago, I went to see our National Bird.
Every winter when the rivers in Alaska and Canada turn into ice, the bald eagles migrate south. For two months (December-January), they congregate along the Skagit River, feasting on carcasses of the spawned-out chum salmon. This is a good opportunity to see them, in numbers.
I started my eagle watch at Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport, WA.
where I spotted this little fella, right at the get-go, perfectly camouflaged amid dense tree branches.
The Bald Eagle Interpretive Center offers a 1.5 hour guided walk on weekends. Although we did not see any eagles during our walk, we learned a great deal about them as well as the Skagit River ecosystem.
For instance, how to identify an adult (5yr+) bald eagle
And a juvenile one.
What in the world is Reverse Dimorphism?
The female bird is larger than the male.
Why can an ocean signature isotope be found on trees inland?
Because of Salmon.
What is lichen?
And last but not least, what does a bald eagle do when its meal is too heavy to be airlifted?
It swims with it, butterfly style.
The walk ended at the confluence of the Sauk and the Skagit Rivers, after which we were free to explore on your own.
There was a reported sighting of 8 to 10 eagles at the Marblemount Fish Hatchery that morning. So I headed there next.
I saw at least one adult and five Juveniles.
Before a Great Blue Heron flew by and landed on a mossy tree, right next to me.
He was beautiful and I was awestruck.
A couple of years ago, I took a boat tour down the Skagit River.
We saw many bald eagles.
Some perched high on trees
Others resting by a gravel bar midstream
Some watched us as we float by
with great interest
Others soaring high into the sky
spreading its majestic wings
riding on thermal.
If it were up to one of our founding fathers, our national symbol would have been turkey – “A much more respectable bird” despite “a little vain and silly.”
Luckily, the Congress did not agree. And Bald Eagle remains our National Emblem.
Coming up next in the Travel section: Ice Hotel in Quebec, Canada