|Eagles (鵰) In Action
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In my sightseeing and bird watching trips in last several years, I have seen eagles in action at several different
places, such as Vancouver Island, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia in Canada, Bosque del Apache National
Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in New Mexico, Pea Patch Island and Bombay Hook NWR in Delaware, USA and
several NWRs in Maryland, USA. The photos of these eagles in action that I took are collected here in this web
Then, the bald eagle took off from the tree and swoop down to snatch up a fish from the water surface. Unlike
osprey (fish hawk) or gannet diving into water to catch fish, the bald eagle normally does not dive into water,
but snatches up the fish from water surface. (Please see Section 4 for special cases where bald eagle has to
struggle and to swim in the water.)
However, the bald eagle did not catch the fish in its first pass over the fish. The first pass was only a
surveillance flight for the eagle to check out the fish and the wind direction. Then the eagle turned around and
adjusted its flight path so that the eagle came in against the wind and swoop down to snatch up the fish. If the
eagle were to come in along the wind direction, the speed of the eagle relative to the water surface and to the
fish might be too fast such that the eagle would be more likely to miss the fish. This is what the tour boat
captain explained to us while we were watching this eagle in action.
2. Bald Eagle Raiding a Colony of Seagulls
While touring the Cape Brenton National Park in Nova Scotia in eastern Canada in July 2005, we saw and heard
a big commotion of a large group of seagulls screaming and shouting in the air to harass a bald eagle as shown
in the following pictures.
A bald eagle was flying towards the White Point Peninsula, probably trying to raid the colony of seagulls there
to steal a baby gull.
Many seagulls from the colony rose up in the air in a big commotion screaming and shouting to surround and to
harass the bald eagle in an effort to defend their nesting area. To cover many seagulls and the bald eagle flying
in the sky, I did not zoom in to get a closer view of any particular bird in the sky.
The bald eagle is being surrounded, harassed and chased away by many seagulls
After a while, many seagulls turned
back to their home. In this picture,
two seagulls in upper left corner had
seagull in the lower right corner
continued to chase the bald eagle
away from their nesting area
Finally, one brave seagull was still chasing the bald eagle away to make sure that the bald eagle did not come
back. With only two birds left in the sky, I zoomed in to get a closer view of these two birds.
3. Eagle Preying on Another Bird
We were touring the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware, USA in May 2006 and saw an eagle
preying on another bird on a mud flat in Shearness Pool as shown in the following pictures.
An eagle raised its wings upward to dash forward to chase its prey (of another bird with extended wing) in the
grass area ahead of the eagle. I am not sure if this eagle is a golden eagle or a juvenile bald eagle. There were
many other birds near the water edge or on the water.
The eagle in flight at low level over the grass got the prey in its talons
The eagle in flight over the grass got the prey in its talons.
The eagle carried its prey to something on the ground slightly ahead. I could not see clearly what was that on
the ground, but one piece on the ground looked like a fish tail. Report from other birders indicates that several
bald eagles had been seen in this area in last few days with a “carp kill”.
The eagle with its prey landed on something on the ground
After landing, the eagle started to eat its prey
The eagle raised its head up to look around from time to time while eating its prey. This went on for quite
sometime. We left at this point to continue our driving tour to see other wildlife in action.
We went to Goldstream Provincial Park on Vancouver Island in western Canada in November 2004 to see
many large salmons coming back from Pacific Ocean into the shallow water in the Goldstream to spawn. There
were many birds including bald eagles feasting on the salmons in that area. I got the pictures of bald eagles
perching on the trees near the Goldstream. When we were touring the Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver
Island in November 2004, we also saw and took picture of a bald eagle in flight.
We also saw and took pictures of bald eagles perching on trees near water: (1) in Moosehorn National Wildlife
Refuge near Calais in Maine, USA on our way to visit Canada in July 2005, and (2) in Bosque del Apache NWR
in New Mexico where there were huge numbers of red crowned sand-hill cranes (丹頂鶴) and snow geese in
We also saw and took pictures of bald eagles in flight when we were touring the Pea Patch Island on Delaware River
near Delaware City, Delaware, USA in May 2006.
There are also many bald eagles at Mason Neck NWR on Potomac River Shoreline about 18 miles south of
Washington DC, at Presquile (island) NWR and James River NWR along James River In Virginia, USA. We plan to
visit these NWRs in the future.
7. Other Kinds of Birds:
In touring these national wildlife refuges, we also saw many ospreys (fish hawks), pelicans, snow geese, red-
crowned sand hill cranes, herons and terns in addition to bald eagles in action. Watching diving sea bird,
gannets, on Delaware Bay and puffins in Newfoundland are also very interesting.
8. Thriving Bald Eagle Population
According to a news article entitled "Bald Eagles, Thriving, Settle Into Suburban Life" in the New York Times on
June 29, 2007, Florida now also has 1,150 breeding pairs of bald eagles. Alaska, Florida and Minnesota are the three
top breeding grounds for bald eagle. There are now 9,700 breeding pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 states in
9. Locations and Directions:
The location of and the direction to various National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs) and National Parks are available on
their Internet websites.
The location and directions to the Susquehanna River in northern Maryland, USA for bird watching are given in my
Travelogue web page entitled Bald Eagles on Susquehanna River in Maryland
6. Other Locations
We visited the Blackwater NWR on eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, USA on April 8, 2007. We
saw some bald eagles in flight in Blackwater NWR. According to its website, there are more than 50 bald
eagles resident at Blackwater NWR year-round, and that number swells to 150 in winter when additional bald
eagles from north migrate to this NWR. We also visited the Chincoteague NWR on the Assateague Island
National Seashore (i.e., barrier island) off east coast of Virginia, USA on April 7, 2007 and saw many wild
horses, many other kinds of birds and two bald eagles.
Then the bald eagle carried the fish back to the nest to feed its babies. (This photo was taken by May Lee)
According to a news article in the Washington Post on April 17, 2006, the number of breeding pairs of bald
eagles in the Chesapeake Bay region in Maryland and Virginia, USA grew from fewer than 100 in the late
1970s to about 1,000 in 2006. The population of bald eagles has recovered very well from its endangered
status in 1970s. Therefore, there are more opportunities for bird watchers to see bald eagles in eastern
Maryland and Virginia now. Many people are very excited and happy to see the majestic bald eagles with wing
span up to 8 feet. Many reports of bald eagle sighting are available at the following website:
Sample phrases describing their happy and sensational feeling of seeing bald eagles are:
"The bird was gorgeous. Stunning! Awesome! Amazing - it was gorgeous! I gasped. What a magnificent
creature! I'm just thrilled. It was beautiful and amazing. What an awesome sight to see. I was so excited to see
these amazing birds. I was truly struck by shear beauty of this bird. The stealthy graceful glide, very quite, very
striking. It's an experience I wish everyone could have. It was an incredible sight to see the White head and
Tails as they soared over the Washington Beltway in Potomac, Maryland. Everyone thought I was crazy -
saying there are no eagles in this part of the country. I AM 100% SURE IT WAS A BALD EAGLE - and
beautiful at that. The eagle was just grand and circling on updrafts. I was thrilled when the bald eagle flew over
the lake and soared over me. The feeling that came over me was as though the Bird was giving me a gift or
greeting of just flying over. It seems to glance at me for a moment. It was the coolest couple of seconds I've
had since I've been watching birds. What a thrill. What an incredible sight! What a great feeling to see them
On April 5, 2007, we visited the Susquehanna River near a dam in northeast Maryland, USA to see many bald
eagles and ospreys (i.e., fish hawks) in action. This dam is about 10 miles northwest of Havre de Grace
where the large Susquehanna River flows into the Chesapeake Bay. The area of this large river just below the
dam is a favored area for many fishing birds such as seagulls, herons, cormorants, ospreys and bald eagles
to catch fish. It is, therefore, also a favored place for bird watchers to see bald eagles and ospreys in action.
The peak season is in the winter if the river is not frozen when some bald eagles from the north migrate here
to join the local resident bald eagles. According to birder's report, more than 100 bald eagles and more than
20,000 seagulls were in this area in December 2006. Best viewing period is between Thanksgiving and
Christmas. Please also see Page 2 for many bald eagles in action here in the winter season at:
A bald eagle got a fish from the Susquehanna River in northeast Maryland on April 5, 2007
1.2 Newfoundland, Canada
1. Bald Eagle Catching Fish
1.1. Maryland, USA
On April 8, 2007, we visited the Eastern Neck Island National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Chesapeake Bay in
Maryland, USA to see bald eagles in action as shown in the picture above.
The eagle has caught up and is slightly above its prey. Both birds have their wings extended.
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