Hello my friends who I haven’t seen in a dog’s age…

Here we are, it’s after dinner, and I’m pretty sure it’s time to play frisbee.

After all, I worked hard, as usual, in the studio

And I had to put up with Caryn making cookies that I can’t eat (chocolate!)

But Caryn told me it’s blogging night, and there’s no time to play frisbee before bed on blogging night. She reminded me that I did get a good hike in today, and an encounter with my friend, the now-famous Henry

Fortunately we have  friends who sometimes contribute to the blog. Friends who are ultra-talented. Friends who are generous. One such friend is Michelline, who is as interested in animals as we are. A while back she sent us photos of the resident orcas, and let us post them here. And then she sent photos of herons. Last week she asked us if we’d like some photos of Bald Eagles. Well! These aren’t just any photos of Bald Eagles; they are Photos of Bald Eagles – with a capital “P”! And it’s funny, because as we were coming off the trail today, we heard an eagle. And the other day in the park we saw one flying overhead. So I think it’s time to talk about eagles.

Here’s some cool facts about eagles (you can impress your friends at cocktail parties with this information – when we can have parties again, that is)…

Bald Eagles have 7000 feathers in many shapes and sizes depending on the role the feather plays in flight, warmth and weather resistance.

About 50 years ago Bald Eagles were in danger of becoming extinct

There were many reasons for this: their nesting and hunting habitats were being destroyed, their food sources were contaminated with pesticides, and sometimes people hunted the eagles. Thanks to special protections of the government and efforts by bird lovers, Bald Eagles are doing OK now. But they are still a protected species. Even their feathers are considered very special, and most people aren’t allowed to possess them. Only Native Americans can, because this is their land and they use the feathers in ceremonies. But no one else can have eagle feathers, so if you find one in the woods, love it and leave it there!

Eagles have a wingspan of 6 – 8 feet. For comparison, I am about four feet long (Caryn allowed me to include my tail in that measurement, so I wouldn’t get a size complex). That means that an eagle’s wings can be twice as long as my body. For those of you who know me, that is a very large wingspan! Imagine me under this one’s wing:

They use their wings and tail to “steer” when flying, to gain altitude…

and to brake before landing

Good grief, look at those claws! Oh – Caryn corrected me – those are talons!!! Eagles, hawks, and owls, all birds of prey, have talons. I think the rest of us have claws. Eagles have 4 toes with talons on each foot. The talons – pointed, hooked claws – are designed to carry things. Things like rabbits and snakes and fish (and hopefully not dogs…..). They also use their talons to carry big sticks and other materials for making their nests. Being big birds, eagle nests are big too – 8 feet wide and 13 feet deep, they can weigh up to a ton. Here’s another comparison – I’m a big boy. I weigh 84 pounds. An eagle’s nest can weigh 1,916 pounds more than me. Consider that…and I guess since that’s a lot of baggage to carry around, they use the same nest year after year, repairing it when it is damaged by weather.

Here’s a pair of eagles. Once an eagle finds a mate, they stay together for the rest of their lives, like in a good love story. They can live up to 25 years. Both adults have white heads and tails, and the female is larger. They like to come home to lay their eggs, building their nest within 100 miles of where they were born.

Here’s a young eagle. S/he’s about a year old:

Baby eagles fledge at around 3 months, and are called sub-adults until they reach maturity at about 5 years old.. Each year their feathers change when they molt, and gradually their beak turns color and the eyes lighten. By 5 years old, the Bald Eagle has a completely white head and tail, an orange-yellow beak, and  pale eyes.

Eagles have a uropygial gland at the base of their tail that secretes a waxy oil known as preen oil. Eagles spread this on their feathers to condition them and to keep the feathers water- resistant. That’s what this fellow is doing here:

That’s a lot of information, but if you want to know more, you can click on the links in this blog. I wonder what your favorite bird is. I think Caryn likes bushtits, flickers and hummingbirds best, but she’ll stop in the forest for owls and eagles and woodpeckers any day. Dahlia likes any bird that is smaller than her. I’ll have to check in with Richard about his favorites. Mine? I love all birds and animals, so long as they are friendly.

A special thanks to Michelline for her photos and information about Bald Eagles! If you want to post a story or photos on our blog, we can do that. We’d love to hear your stories! You can talk about what life is like for you during the pandemic, or tell us about your animals, or just tell me who you are, and maybe what you wish for this year. Photos are great, and drawings too! Just click on the “Submit Your Story” link on the top of the page and send us some stuff!