The other day I was driving through Skagit County, Washington, about thirty minutes south of our home when I came upon several bald eagles, thirty to forty. It was like being in Alaska. Most were standing around in the center of a wet field while others were collected in the surrounding trees. A birder who pulled up next to us commented, “Bald Eagles are actually more scavenger than hunter. Many of their meals come from intimidating other birds to drop their prey, then the eagles come in and steal it. They’re not that noble a bird, a poor choice for our national symbol.”
His assessment of the eagles feeding habits may or may not be accurate, although Benjamin Franklin made the same observations. But Franklin’s suggestion of removing the bald eagle from our national seal and substituting the turkey is a myth according to the Smithsonian. Nevertheless the bald eagle’s eating habits do not change my view of the bird. I am still in awe of them. Their speed, agility and incredible vision is enough to make them admirable and their size, hooked beak and powerful talons make them formidable. I associate them with freedom and wilderness and that’s why it’s so cool to see them so close to our home.
I drove by the same field two days ago and all the bald eagles were gone. I was lucky.