Sunday, June 5, 2011

Eagle on a Silo

This Sunday morning I was sitting outside, having a cup of coffee, and reading a book.  I began to notice the farm yard birds (grackles and red-winged blackbirds and starlings) were alarm calling.  I looked up, and saw the very large bird above on top of the 70 foot silo.  At first I thought it might be a red tailed hawk.  There is a pair that have nested on the farm for several years, however unfortunately not this year at the usual location.  They have been seen, so may have moved their nest further into the woods.  I got my binoculars to get a closer look.
It was NOT a red tailed hawk . . . but instead, a juvenile Bald Eagle.
I am guessing this may be a second year juvenile, possibly three.  First year Bald Eagles have a black beak.  As you can see above, the beak is yellowing up.  However, the eyes are still brown.  Adults have yellow-golden eyes.  Adults also have the white head and tail, which they do not acquire until about their fourth or fifth year.  Until that time, they are very brown and white splotchy.

The eagle stayed in position for about an hour, basking in the morning sunshine, preening his or her feathers.  I have no idea what sex the bird may have been without being able to compare to another bird.  She or he gave me plenty of time to get my spotting scope out and set up, and to also take some digital pictures.  Again, the view through my scope was outstanding!  My camera just does not capture what I'm seeing.  It is still pretty impressive, but not professional by any stretch of the imagination.
The eagle just looked around from it's lofty perch, perhaps wishing there was more than just barn cats wandering around the base of the silo.  Our chickens are kept safe from just such predators, as well as our dogs.  It tracked the birds which flew around, alarm calling, but pretty much ignored them.  It occasionally scratched and flinched, most likely being bothered by the same small flies that were buzzing around me, tickling as they landed.  Through my spotting scope I could see the new, darker feathers that are growing in, compared to the lighter brown from the previous year.  The feathers on the head are only tipped in brown, the rest being creamy white, which you could see easily as the wind gently ruffled them.
It is nice to live somewhere were such noble creatures come to perch and to preen, and to allow themselves to be admired.

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