We have a bald eagle nest in the estuary behind our campsite in Campbell River, British Columbia. It’s too far away to photograph (for me), but with a spotting scope, we can watch over the eaglets.
In spring when we arrive here, we see the adults coming and going with sticks. Once I saw and heard one of the adults break a branch off of a neighbouring tree! There was a great CRACK and then the eagle flew across the sky with a huge branch!
Soon enough we’ll start to see a couple of fuzzy balls in the nest and then we get to watch them grow over a couple of months until they become as big as the adults.
Watching them start to exercise their wings in preparation for their first flight is an absolute delight. They open their wings, flap a little, and put them back. Again and again. And then they start flapping and hopping around in the nest. Soon enough they start hopping between branches and going straight up and back down again.
I love the mottled feathers of the juveniles. It takes about 4 to 5 years before they will get their white head and tail feathers.
Around here, the bald eagles are not kings of the jungle, but queens of the rainforest. A fully grown bald eagle has no predators. And yes, the females are larger than the males. The males weigh in at 6-8 pounds and the females are about 9-11 pounds.
A 10 pound bird with a 7 foot wingspan is pretty impressive all on its own, but when there are 15 of them on the beach it is an astonishing sight. The day I made most of these photos, I counted 24 eagles either on the beach, on the nearby ore loading dock, or in the sky just above me. Why so many? Salmon!
This is the salmon capitol of the world, they say, and the eagles seem to agree. It is customary here for the fishermen to throw the fish waste back into the ocean, which is an easy target for the eagles, even though they are perfectly capable of catching their own fish.
It’s quite funny to watch when all the eagles have had their fill and they sit on the nearby ore loading dock and watch as the seagulls bravely take the seconds. But should an eagle come near there is a great flapping of collective wings as the seagulls take their leave! Whenever I hear the flapping I look up and see the incoming eagle.
To make these photos, I used my Canon 7D with a 400mm lens. When the eagles are on the beach, they are fairly close, so I often use my 70-300mm lens, but since it recently broke, I only had my 400mm to work with the last time this photo opportunity came around.
Watching the bald eagles raising their young is just one more reason to love Vancouver Island in summer time!