Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Gathering of eagles

Occasionally I glimpse one of our local eagle clan crossing the ridge near my home, but not quite as often as last spring and summer. Earlier this month, I spotted a large group of raptors very high in the sky. So high, I wasn't sure if they were bald eagles or other large raptors. Altogether there were 10 large birds, gliding on the thermals and dancing with one another. Too high to be hunting, they were clearly on a mission.

They lingered over my neighborhood just long enough for me to spot them from the window, run to get my camera, and out to the backyard to knock off a few shots. Then they disappeared into the eastern horizon.

When I enlarged one of the images to actual pixels, I could see the characteristic white heads and tails of adult bald eagles on three of the birds. The others appeared to be juveniles of varying ages.

I'm fascinated that raptors that often fight one another to death or serious injury over choice prey, will gather together for what looks very much like social time.

I have observed gatherings of eagles numerous times here. Enough so that I'm convinced they are an extended family, like an orca pod.

My favorite eagle couple is returning regularly to the evergreen grove where they roost during the times they are not nesting and rearing young. I wonder where their kids roost? They are harder to spot in the dark because juveniles are typically three or four years old before they get the white heads, tails and legs.

I have learned so much from the eagle clan this past year. By the end of the year, I hope to have most of those learnings together in a book. In the meantime, my growing visual collection can be found in my online Talons Gallery.

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