Posted by: Jill | June 6, 2008

A Major Birding Milestone

I’m pretty good at identifying fish, but birds have always been challenging for me. They’re so small, and they move quickly or hide in trees, and they’re often silhouetted against the sun. How’s a girl supposed to tell a swallow from a flycatcher? I do like to tell the story of being the first in my group to spot a Resplendent Quetzal, but that was back in 2004 and it’s about time for a new accomplishment.

Bald Eagles.

I come from a place where bald eagle sightings make the front page of the paper, so it was exciting to move to the Pacific Northwest where eagles are everywhere. Still, it took me months to see my first eagle.  I have not yet turned into a jaded Seattleite who ignores bald eagles and seals, and I hope I never do. So far, my bald eagle count is over 10, and I am still excited every time I spot one.

But identifying bald eagles is still a challenge for me; to me, seagulls and cormorants sometimes look like eagles. And distinguishing juvenile bald eagles (they lack the distinctive white head) from vultures? No chance. Until–

Yesterday I spotted a bald eagle from my bedroom window. It was flying toward me, completely silhouetted against the sun, and I identified it by its size, flight pattern, and the behavior of other nearby birds. I whipped out the binoculars to confirm – success!

I believe this marks the official moment when I became a Northewest birder. Hooray!

Look very closely and you’ll see the eagle in the tree, from a recent trip to Astoria, OR.  Next on my Birding Milestones list: get a better photo of an eagle.



  1. I’ll get you a better eagle photo. hmm, why not make it an eagle photo contest.

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