Bald eagle sightings are seldom forgettable: The whoosh of wings overhead, the call from a nest or perch, the swoop onto unsuspecting prey, the fledge of a juvenile.
Majestic, indeed: Bald eagles are second in size only to California condors, with a wingspan ranging from six and a half to seven and a half feet.
The bald eagle is not only a national symbol, it’s also a testament to the effectiveness of federal protection.
America’s bald eagle population declined from an estimated half million to nearly extinct over a period of 300 years because of loss of habitat to westward expansion, killing by hunters and fishermen, and the use of pesticides that were ingested by eagle prey.
Bald eagles were declared an endangered species in 1967 under a law that preceded the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Thirty-four years later, the population had recovered enough to justify being removed from the list (bald eagles are still protected under federal law and international treaties related to migratory birds).
According to the Seattle Audubon Society, Western Washington has one of largest concentrations of bald eagles in the contiguous United States.
“They are common breeders along salt and fresh water at lower elevations throughout western Washington, especially … both the north and west coasts of the Olympic Peninsula,” the society reports.
“They will nest fairly close to people … In winter, they are common in many areas with open water, including estuaries, major lakes and rivers, especially those with salmon runs.”
Learn more about bald eagles in Kitsap County in award-winning photographer David Gluckman’s presentation, “Photographic Tour — Puget Loop of the Great Washington Birding Trail,” April 11, 7 p.m., in the Poulsbo Library.
Gluckman and Audubon’s Christi Norman will narrate a photographic tour of the Puget Loop of the trail, which includes seven birding hotspots in Kitsap County. Members of Kitsap Audubon accompanied Gluckman and Norman on these site tours and helped identify and document bald eagle locations in Kitsap County.
The Puget Loop map is the seventh and final map in a series of regional maps covering all of Washington State.
Norman is the program director and primary developer of Audubon’s Great Washington State Birding Trail.
Gluckman is an outdoor and wildlife photographer, retired environmental lawyer, author of books on bicycling and kayaking, and a certified bird field trip leader for Admiralty Audubon Society. He has taught bird identification and bird photography at Peninsula College in Port Townsend, and lectures on photography and bird identification at numerous venues around Washington state.
Gluckman has photographed nature and wildlife for more than 40 years and his photographs have been printed in publications nationwide.
These are the bird-photography ethics he abides by, posted on his website:
“A reminder to all who choose to photograph birds — you are responsible for your actions and should conduct yourself in a manner that respects the birds you take images of as well as the lands you travel.
“Please observe a few simple rules of behavior as you go about your craft. If your actions are causing the bird to react in a way that might cause it danger or interfere in a negative way with its normal living routine, back off and approach in a different way or not at all. Respect its space. This includes getting too close in places it can’t retreat easily or using artificial attractors like recorded calls or continual ‘pishing’ that may cause it to leave a nest undefended or place it in a situation where it is more susceptible to predators. These rules of behavior are particularly important if the subject is endangered or threatened.
“Walk lightly upon the land. Don’t go on private land without permission and take care of public land as if it were your own. Leave as little evidence of your passing as possible. The less you alter the lands you walk, the greater number of birds that might still be there for the next photographer.”
The April 11 meeting is open to the public. Members will vote on officers for a one-year term beginning July 1. The following were recommended by the nominating committee; members may make other nominations at the meeting.
President: Janine Schutt.
Vice president: Judy Willott.
Treasurer: Sandy Bullock.
Secretary: Jessica Klinkert.
The April 11 presentation event is one of several bird-related events in our region this month.
— Olympic Birdfest is April 5-7 near Sequim. Go to www.olympicbirdfest.org.
— Othello Sandhill Crane Festival is April 5-7 in Othello. Go to www.othellosandhillcranefestival.org
— Port Washington Narrows field trip is April 13. Contact Gene or Sandy Bullock to reserve a spot; call (360) 394-5635 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“This morning field trip to Port Washington Narrows in Bremerton is a tradition started many years ago by Ivan Summers. We usually end it with lunch at the Boatshed Restaurant,” Gene Bullock wrote in the latest edition of The Kingfisher, the Kitsap Audubon Society newsletter.
“Tens of thousands of marine birds winter in these protected waters, and well-maintained Bremerton parks provide outstanding views plus convenient parking. We’ll meet at 9 a.m. at Lions Field Park on Lebo Lane. We’ll also visit Evergreen Park and stop at Lower Rota Vista Park. Kitsap Audubon has installed steps, a handrail and an interpretive sign at this charming little park at the end of Elizabeth Avenue, which offers exceptional views of a unique colony of Pelagic Cormorants and pair of Peregrine Falcons that nest on the underside [of] the Warren Avenue Bridge.”
— Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival is April 26-28. Go to www.shorebirdfestival.com.