Bald Eagles on Skagit River

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

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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.

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where I spotted this little fella, right at the get-go, perfectly camouflaged amid dense tree branches.

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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

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And a juvenile one.

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What in the world is Reverse Dimorphism?

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The female bird is larger than the male.

Why can an ocean signature isotope be found on trees inland?

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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?

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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.

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There was a reported sighting of 8 to 10 eagles at the Marblemount Fish Hatchery that morning. So I headed there next.

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I saw at least one adult and five Juveniles.

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Before a Great Blue Heron flew by and landed on a mossy tree, right next to me.

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He was beautiful and I was awestruck.

A couple of years ago, I took a boat tour down the Skagit River.

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We saw many bald eagles.

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Some perched high on trees

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Others resting by a gravel bar midstream

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Some watched us as we float by

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with great interest

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Others soaring high into the sky

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spreading its majestic wings

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riding on thermal.

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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.

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Coming up next in the Travel section: Ice Hotel in Quebec, Canada

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35 thoughts on “Bald Eagles on Skagit River

  1. Great panning shot of that eagle in flight!

    I’ve only been up to the Skagit in winter once, about 25 years ago or so. We didn’t go all the way to Rockport, but we found a spot to pull over and watch several eagles across the river. My 150mm lens on my film SLR didn’t net me any good pics. The thing that surprised me most was the sounds they make. I expected something fierce and regal. But nope. It’s almost seagullish.

    I keep meaning to go back sometime, but never actually get around to making a plan.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. These are incredible shots. Did you hear the bald eagles “cry” at all? When I was visiting Juneau I heard them, but it was more of a weird “squawk” than a majestic cry. I was unimpressed, and think that bald eagles are at their best when they are strong and silent.

    Liked by 2 people

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