A Majestic Raptor

 

web eagle sig_DSC7910

This photo was taken on the highway near Victor, Wyoming.  This utility pole stood right next to the 2 lane country road with no shoulder.  As we passed this enormous eagle nest, I noticed this exquisite chocolate brown feathered eagle with a gleaming white head.  We were traveling about 50 miles an hour and I begged my husband to turn around.  Now, turning around on this busy road was no small feat but we were able to find a open place to turn around.  As we approached the eagle, we were about 10 feet from its panoramic perch and I began taking pictures as quickly as I could.  The eagle definitely heard the clicking of my rapid firing shutter.  He quickly dismissed my annoyance and resumed its keen peering over the pristine newly fallen snow.

The following information was taken from The National Geographic site:

“The bald eagle, with its snowy-feathered (not bald) head and white tail, is the proud national bird symbol of the United States—yet the bird was nearly wiped out there. For many decades, bald eagles were hunted for sport and for the “protection” of fishing grounds. Pesticides like DDT also wreaked havoc on eagles and other birds. These chemicals collect in fish, which make up most of the eagle’s diet. They weaken the bird’s eggshells and severely limited their ability to reproduce. Since DDT use was heavily restricted in 1972, eagle numbers have rebounded significantly and have been aided by reintroduction programs. The result is a wildlife success story—the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has upgraded the birds from endangered to threatened.

Though their numbers have grown in much of their range, bald eagles remain most abundant in Alaska and Canada. These powerful birds of prey use their talons to fish, but they get many of their meals by scavenging carrion or stealing the kills of other animals. (Such thievery famously prompted Ben Franklin to argue against the bird’s nomination as the United State’s national symbol.) They live near water and favor coasts and lakes where fish are plentiful, though they will also snare and eat small mammals.

Bald eagles are believed to mate for life. A pair constructs an enormous stick nest—one of the bird-world’s biggest—high above the ground and tends to a pair of eggs each year. Immature eagles are dark, and until they are about five years old, they lack the distinctive white markings that make their parents so easy to identify. Young eagles roam great distances. Florida birds have been spotted in Michigan, and California eagles have traveled all the way to Alaska.”

Fast Facts

Type:
Bird
Diet:
Carnivore
Average life span in the wild:
Up to 28 years
Size:
Body, 34 to 43 in (86 to 109 cm); Wingspan, 6 to 8 ft (1.8 to 2.4 m)
Weight:
6.5 to 14 lbs (3 to 6.5 kg)
Did you know?
The largest bald eagle nest on record was 9.5 ft (3 m) wide and 20 ft (6 m) high. It weighed more than two tons.

web eagle in tree_DSC7945

This photo was taken about a quarter of a mile away from where the last eagle was spotted but on the opposite side of the roadway.  We definitely couldn’t pullover so I quickly took this picture from the wrong side of the car as we darted by.  I love this statuesque tree that towers over the blanketed field that once held crops.  The eagle peers over its territory in hopes of finding a hidden tidbit underneath the blanket of snow.

The Eagle
BY ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON
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.

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