Canadian photographer R. John Knight shares the stories behind some of his nature and wildlife images

Friday, April 19, 2013

Bald Eagles of the Chilcotin Region, B.C.

We went to the Chilcotin Region, west-central British Columbia last fall to photograph Grizzlies, and again discovered that Bald Eagles were equally interested in the salmon run.  It was difficult to decide whether to point your camera at the grizzlies, or the eagles.  Both were entertaining, and numerous.

"The salmon was this BIG!"
First, here's some general information about eagles:

     Proper Name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus
     Diet:  carnivore; particularly fish, but are known to eat small birds, rodents
          and dead meat
     Wing Span: 6 to 8 ft (1.8 to 2.4 m)
     Body Size:  34 to 43 in  (86 to 109 cm)
     Height:  75 to 100 cm
     Weight:  6.5 to 14 lbs (3 to 6.5 kg); males about 25% smaller (3 to 4 kg)
          than females (4.5 to 6.5 kg)
     Lifespan:  ~20-30 years
     Habitat: lakes, rivers and coastlines with nearby forests
     Range:  Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico on both sides of the Rockies

For the long migrations south, Bald Eagles congregate where the salmon spawn.  They stay for as long as they need to top up their protein reserves.

Juvenile Eagle between bites
Don't even try ... this one is mine!
Eagle starting to do the "Salmon Dance"

 With one meal done, it's back to tree-tops to look for the next course.

It's takes a long runway to get airborne with a full-stomach
Keeping an eye on the river below while relaxing in the sun
Much better visibility from an old snag
Yea, yea ... I know that I don't blend into the autumn colours very well
Once a salmon is in sight, it's time to get airborne, and this is easily done from the tree-tops..
Diving from the treetops is the fun part!
It's fun to fly low so that just your wingtips graze the water's surface

Being a Bald Eagle looks like a lot of fun between eating fresh salmon sushi and the flying.  However, they still have to watch out for food that is tainted with pollutants, such as DDT, mercury, heavy metals and long-lasting organic chemicals, and of course, the occasional human who uses them for target practice.

What a beautiful bird to watch in the great outdoors!

We went with John Marriott, and stayed at Tsylos Park Lodge.  Contact Karen for details.

1 comment:

  1. We're thrilled to see you blog after sometime. You made a beautiful picture story of the eagle on it's quest for food. We have a good eagle encounter: we were riding in the motorcycle when the giant bird decided to unload it's poop, guess where it landed? Fortunately we all know that it's good luck to be spit upon by an orca and even more so to be shat upon by an eagle. Kerry said we are very lucky although not fun.