Friday, January 11, 2008

Bald Eagles Finally!

Peter Lee (The Record)

In June 2007, the Bald Eagle was taken off the list of endangered and threatened wildlife in the USA. Most of the world's Bald Eagles live in Alaska and British Columbia but they are found in most of the North American continent.

Last winter, twelve Bald Eagles overwintered in our area, four times the number found here a decade ago. Sightings are still rare enough that the birds made the front page of the newspaper twice in a month. I have gone looking for them several times in the last six weeks with no success. Because the trail near the hospital was impassable due to flooding this week, I drove five minutes downstream to another trail that is situated on a higher bank of the river.

Three people were there using a scope and recording some data. Ever curious, I found out they were from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and were conducting a mid-winter water bird count along the Grand River. They asked me if I wanted to see the eagles. I couldn't see them, but a mature pair were there, several hundred metres upstream sitting on a large willow tree. After viewing them through the scope, I found them easily with my binoculars and using the maximum zoom on my camera, I was able to take this blurry shot. The picture above was taken by a photographer for our local newspaper. The eagle he photographed was in the same tree as the ones I photographed and may be one of the same birds. (The MNR people told me the newspaper photographer had a very large camera!)

The group from the Ontario MNR were pleased to see a pair of Bald Eagles, the larger female sitting on the left. They are hoping the eagles will once again nest here and stay year round.

Same Eagle Perch (my photo)

Larry of the Brownstone Birding Blog suggested participating in a bird listing game called Big January in which the birder counts as many birds as possible this month. (His goal in Connecticut is 90 birds, but I doubt this is a realistic target for this area of Ontario in the winter)
Early Thursday morning, my husband awakened me at 4:30 AM because a Great Horned Owl was hooting in a tree right outside our bedroom window in the city. There is no moon this week and it was too dark to see, but its identity was unmistakable by its call. So I will count it too.

Here is my list for the first eleven days of the year...

Bald Eagle, GH Owl, Northern Shrike (all for the first time!)

Slate-coloured Junco, American Goldfinch, Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay, Red-breasted Nuthatch, White-breasted Nuthatch, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Black-capped Chickadee, House Finch, Mourning Dove, Mallard Duck, Canada Goose, Bufflehead Duck, Common Merganser, Goldeneye Duck, Black Duck, Herring Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Belted Kingfisher, Rock Pigeon, Crow, Tree Sparrow, Common Redpoll, House Sparrow :-(

That's all I can remember right now for a total of 30. But the eagles are my highlight of the month no matter what else I see.


  1. So cool to be able to photograph bald eagles. I regret them being taken off the list--as there are crazy people who think it's ok to be less than caring.
    *sigh*--I guess I shouldn't fret too much--someone who is inclined to not be caring probably doesn't pay any attention to a "list."

  2. Eagle is a great bird for you list and hope you keep your list for the whole year besides just January!

  3. At Audubon, we care for an injured bald eagle. She is magnificent. But we also regularly see bald eagles hunting on Big Pond. It is always a thrill. When we do the Project WILD program "Hazardous Links" that helps kids understand DDT in food chains, I always ask how many of them have seen an eagle in the wild. Many hands go up in just about every class. I explain that when I was in 4th grade, no one's hand would have gone up... It's such a great come-back story!

  4. Your eagles are the highlight of my month too.

  5. We see a lot of eagles on our side of the country ... especially down at the coast when the salmon are running. We have a pair that live on our lakes right here in the summer ... sure make the loons nervous when they have a young one!

    I've given you an award today ... I don't usually do the award thing (not that I get many) but I thought I'd do it this once. I won't be offended if you don't take it up!!!

  6. They are just so majestic. We have a lot in our area and we love to watch them soar over our deck - they are very high up usually but we enjoy no end.

  7. Wow Ruth, aren't those eagles so majestic! I'm so glad you got to see them and it would be very neat if they actually decided to stay and nest there too. Keep us posted.

    P.S. My spousal unit woke up in the middle of one night last week and heard owls hooting right outside our house too and he DIDN'T wake me up. He thought that would make me mad and I told him he could wake me up any time--for owls, that is!

  8. I really want to see the eagles too. I would find that very exciting. I must make a plan to walk along the Grand River very soon. Can you tell me where exactly you went?

  9. Ruth-you surprised me in every way.
    1st-I decided it was time to catch up on your blog and didn't know you had read my most recent post.

    2ns-I am glad that you were able to see Bald Eagles! That is the bird that got me hooked on going out to look for birds-awesome!

    3rd-I wouldn't have figured that you would have taken part in a January count-and you've already got your list rolling! You made my day!-thanks!

  10. Anonymous9:23 pm GMT-5

    I love the bald eagles, too, and am always thrilled to see and hear them.

    (in central B.C.)

  11. That's so cool. I didn't know this could be part of their habitat. I saw one flying a rather long way off in BC this past summer, and that was sort of neat too.

  12. I'd probably need some Depends if I saw the Eagles Ruth! How wonderful to be able to see them so well! Impressive yard list you have there.

  13. They are certainly nice-looking birds, aren't they? We have a pair that nest by our marine biology station near Anacortes, Washington. Our researcher of seagulls (the prey of bald eagles) refers to the bald eagles as "devil birds." It always cracks the rest of us up when he uses that phrase so indignantly.

  14. KGMom- I think you are right in saying that lists are ignored by irresponsible people.

    Monarch- I will keep a list for the year again. I have to break the 99 from 2007.

    Jennifer- You have more Bald Eagles in your area I believe, as Tom sometimes is disappointed when he sees one when he wants to find a Golden Eagle ;-)
    It is a great come-back story.

    FMDoc- Thanks. You should have them your way too I would think.

    CS- Thanks for the award. It would be lovely to see eagles all year, but we don't have salmon in our river.

    Jean- I don't think I would tire of watching them soar overhead.

    Ruthie- My mom called me from Mexico and commented on your comment. lol! My husband figures he would get more attention from me if he were a bird!

    Melissa- sent you an email...

    Larry- You are quite inspiring (and methodical) and I always read your blog, even if I don't always comment. So you started with an eagle...hmmm

    April- Thanks for commenting and welcome to blogging. I love your Jan 12th eagle picture.

    AC- I wonder if they are any up your way? These eagles winter here from the north, how far north, I don't know.

    Jayne- Don't tell me you don't have eagles! I am sure you could attract them with some salmon at a feeder...! You will have to get out for those field trips you wrote about.

    Ginger- There must be an awful lot of eagles your way if they could be disdained by anyone! Our eagles are having trouble fishing in the flooded river, so they are going after the waterbirds too.

  15. Bald Eagle! Good for you, Ruth! I have heard and seen a GHO on my neighbor's rooftop before sunrise once. Awesome.

    Your list is very impressive. Keep updating your list. I should have one.

    This morning I heard of Bald Eagles at nature refuge not far from here... I might make the trip next weekend :o)


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