Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wintering Bald Eagle Surveys in the Methow Valley

This winter, naturalists are braving the cold temperatures while joining the North Cascades Basecamp to survey bald eagle distribution and night roosting locations in the mid to upper Methow Valley.  On January 13th,  five intrepid explorers documented 11 eagles between Twisp and Carlton, three of which were spotted as they were flying into their evening roost. One highlight included an up-close view of several perched juveniles eagles, likely feasting on prey near the river below, as their beaks were covered with blood. 

One-year bald eagle juvenile near Carlton. 
Notice the blood on its beak!

As the group is observing and documenting bald eagles and their locations, they are also becoming skilled at aging these slow to mature birds. Observers expected one of the eagles to be a first-year bird (born in 2012) as it’s head was dark brown, beak had very little yellow on it, and its eyes were still dark brown.  At two years of age, bald eagles have more yellow developing on their beak, lighter brown eyes, a lighter golden brown head, some white mottling on their chest, and a fair amount of white on the underside of their wings. At three years, they have further lightened heads, beak, and eyes, as well as a dark brown stripe behind their eyes. A four-year juvenile resembles a mature adult, except for some minimal brown speckling on their head and tail.   Other highlights of the surveys include great views of an adult golden eagle, two red tail hawks, and two rough-legged hawks near Twisp. 
Three-year old bald eagle juvenile with white 
on top of head and dark stripe behind the eye. 
If you’d like to learn more about bald eagles and join these surveys with the North Cascades Basecamp, surveys are every other Sunday between 1-5:30pm; cost is $20/person.  Email, or call (509)996-2334 for more information.

No comments:

Post a Comment