Saturday, January 23, 2010

Eagle Watching

This is the eagle that was watching me from his perch along the side of the road.

Yesterday, my Mother and I drove towards the Cascade Mountains to see the annual spectacle of migrating eagles.  We took a two and a half hour scenic ride to the Skagit River between the towns of Rockport and Marblemount nestled below Mount Baker where the eagles stop on their migration from the coastal Pacific Northwest to California.  It was a beautiful clear day and the snow topped mountains were magnificent.

Seeing bald eagles is an experience that everyone should have at least once in their life.  They are majestic and regal the way they perch in the trees and scan the countryside.  Their white head and yellow crooked beak are a sharp contrast to their dark feathered large body.  Their white head makes them easy to spot in the trees.  Eagles can have up to an eight foot wing span and can weigh up to 15 pounds.  Female eagles are generally larger than the males.

We drove along the river and suddenly an eagle swooped down over the road and landed in a cottonwood tree beside the road.  I stopped the car and parked safely on the side of the narrow winding road.  While we fumbled to get our cameras and binoculars, the eagle sat turning his head and looked at us.  I got out of the car and slowly walked under his tree.  He cocked his head and looked at me through his right eye as if examining what I was doing.  He never fluttered or fidgeted.  I have to admit his attention span was longer than mine and I returned to the car after thanking him for letting me take his picture and have a good look.  We drove on down the road to look for more.

The traffic was not heavy and I was able to drive very slowly.  By looking in the trees and focusing on white I was able to spot them.  It was just amazing to see them perched in the trees looking up and down the river.

The eagles are looking for dead salmon.  It seems that the Skagit River hosts five different species of salmon.  From November through January, the Chum salmon have finished their spawning, are exhausted after their long journey from the Pacific Ocean and die.  Mother Nature has designed an elegant recycling plan to clean up the river banks.  Eagles and some mammals arrive in time to clean up the dead carcasses.  What a perfect disposal plan.

If you ever have a chance to visit Washington this time of year, I suggest you include a trip to see the eagles along the Skagit River.

Check out my recently published content on Associated Content:"> Spectacular Skagit River Eagle Watching in Washington

1 comment:

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