Outdoors blog

Birder witnesses eaglette's first flight

Bald eagles in a nest in Seattle as viewed through the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department's EagleCam. (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)
Bald eagles in a nest in Seattle as viewed through the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department's EagleCam. (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

WILDLIFE WATCHING -- Spokane birder Kim Thorburn treats us to her July 10 observation of Spokane River bald eagles of the year taking their first flight from their nest in Riverside State Park.

This morning I watched the maiden flight of the second Riverside State Park-Deep Creek eaglet to fledge.  The first and largest sibling left several days ago.  The final pipsqueak remained branched by the nest, squealing as its second sibling tried its wings.  The soaring went well but landing looked pretty hairy.
 
First, there was the matter of selecting a perch that was solid enough to receive pretty significant mass arriving with considerable velocity.  Then there was figuring out and coordinating the wing rotation and tail rutter to reduce the velocity enough to light on the perch.  The success of it all seemed quite remarkable.
 
A little while later, I watched a juvenile bald eagle soaring with a kettle of turkey vultures on top of Pine Bluff.  I assumed it was the first sibling and wondered if it had already figured out that this might be a good crowd to hang with to improve the chances of the ever-constant foraging that it now faced.  It seemed unphased as the only bird of the group that an adult sharp-shinned hawk persistently dive bombed.
 




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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