The Bald Eagle is our great nation’s bird of course.
In many places it is considered Endangered. Up here in Alaska they are just the opposite, they are a very successful raptor, and in some places and at certain times gather in great numbers.
There are many misconceptions about eagles;
Hollywood gives them the single bold call of the wild that is majestic but fraudulent, Bald Eagles have a funny squeaky language that makes me think of a squeaky wheel bearing. The Hollywood fake sound is the Red Tailed Hawk, another awesome raptor, but not an eagle. Also, a lot of people attach values to the eagle that don’t belong. They are majestic yes, they are also scavengers, frequenting every land fill and dump, and find kills like buzzards, a reality of successful survival. They are truly wild, and will take opportunity to do what they are designed to do, to kill and feed on their prey as needed, as it should be I think.
There are several places where eagles gather in large numbers, sometimes in the hundreds, in the winter. There are at least two places I know of where they are fed by "Eagle Lady’s". This practice has been challenged and even banned in some places. There seems to be no evidence, however, that eagles are anything but wild creatures who will kill to survive and cannot be domesticated in any way, or that they become dependant or dangerous as a result of feeding. I like that.
Last weekend I went to one such place, the Eagle River VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) lodge. Had a great breakfast and met up with some of the people from one of my photo groups on Flickr and some of the members of the lodge.
The eagle lady, Betty, was to show up at 11am and by the time she did the eagles were all over the place.
The classic soaring pose
Some of the people that came for the show, these people are part of our group.
I quickly learned the difficulty in following these birds with a telephoto lens at close range
I learned that I could watch for a certain flight pattern to catch them as they circled in
I was amazed at the acrobatic flight these big raptors displayed, and was impressed at their speed
Betty cuts up the fish into individual portions, as they will fight over big pieces.
They seemed to know how many could be on the ground at a time, and the rest would wait there turn.
There were about 3 dozen eagles there.
With their super telephoto eyesight, some would wait some didtance off and watch.
There were some tussles but no real fights.
This tussle over top branch dominance by two big guys lasted several seconds.
Coming in as if for the kill
It was thrilling to see all the action and hear the woosh of big wings all around
One of the better air shows I’ve seen!