Eagles on the River

Every winter our beautiful Skagit River is home to one of the largest bald eagle populations in North America. The eagles come down from Canada and feed on the spawned out salmon in the river. It is a pretty common sight to see the eagles perched in the trees along the river this time of year.

eagle tree 3

I’ve seen as many as six eagles in one tree at the height of the season. ¬†They also like to hang out on the gravel bars in the river and look for the salmon.

Eagle 1

My friend Dan has become quite a good nature photographer and has graciously allowed me to share his pictures of these majestic raptors. Here is one of an eagle plucking a fish out of the river.

eagle 6

They patrol the gravel bars and are actually strong swimmers.

eagle 10

Eagles are very territorial creatures, and they don’t mind fighting other birds to keep them away from their prey – though this seagull seems to have slipped in.

3 birds

Danny got some of the best shots I’ve seen of this eagle feeding on a salmon carcass. You can tell it is a mature bird because the head is totally white. At least four to five years old.

eagle fish 5

eagle fish 4

eagle fish 2

eagle fish 7

After they feed, the eagles retreat to the trees to rest and wait for another fish.

eagle tree 2

Danny took some great shots, but this one is my favorite – I think it could be in a magazine. It is lucky for both of us we live in such a naturally beautiful area with lots of good photo opportunities.

 eagle fish 3

Thanks Danny for sharing your pictures!

All photos courtesy of Dan DuVarney.

5 comments on “Eagles on the River

  1. Bob says:

    Ok, I know you probably get asked this all the time but, what do they taste like?

    • Brenda says:

      Chicken? I have no idea, I’ve never tasted one and I don’t know anyone who has – they are a protected species.
      FYI: The bald eagle will continue to be protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act even though it has been delisted under the Endangered Species Act. This law, originally passed in 1940, provides for the protection of the bald eagle and the golden eagle (as amended in 1962) by prohibiting the take, possession, sale, purchase, barter, offer to sell, purchase or barter, transport, export or import, of any bald or golden eagle, alive or dead, including any part, nest, or egg, unless allowed by permit Bald Eagle sitting in tree (16 U.S.C. 668(a); 50 CFR 22). “Take” includes pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest or disturb (16 U.S.C. 668c; 50 CFR 22.3). The 1972 amendments increased civil penalties for violating provisions of the Act to a maximum fine of $5,000 or one year imprisonment with $10,000 or not more than two years in prison for a second conviction. Felony convictions carry a maximum fine of $250,000 or two years of imprisonment. The fine doubles for an organization. Rewards are provided for information leading to arrest and conviction for violation of the Act.

  2. ML says:

    OK, Bob, that’s what you get for being funny. Great pictures.

  3. Brenda says:

    Fresh salmon is absolutely delicious! The ones that have spawned and died – we leave those for the eagles.

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