Adam Welz's Weblog

dirty, dirty Bald Eagle – Homer, Alaska

Posted in ALL BLOG POSTS, birds & birding by adamwelz on June 2, 2008

Hi All

we all know about the Bald Eagle, the ultimate symbol of freedom and US pride. South African readers of this blog will know the African Fish-Eagle, a close relative of the Bald, and likewise associated with grace, beauty, and fearsome strength. It’s ringing cry is the ‘call of the African wilderness’.

Alaska is the stronghold of the Bald Eagle. It’s pristine waters support by far the largest population of these fantastic raptors in the USA.

Beautiful, innit?

What the bird marketers don’t tell you is that both Bald Eagle and African Fish-Eagle are incredibly lazy. These guys would sit on their perches all day if they didn’t have to make a living, and if they don’t have to go to all the bother of catching and killing something, they won’t. They’ll eat dead stuff.

I found the bird above on a beach at Homer, Alaska, on a day trip down there with Jim Dahl (a Rotary club fella from Ketchikan). I could get within 10m of it and get this image with a pretty short lens because it likes people. It hangs out on the mucky beach with the fishermen all day, feeding on fishguts they toss away. Its long killer claws actually get in the way of walking, giving it a comical careful amble like a clown with oversized shoes on.

All around many fishing towns in Alaska, the Bald Eagle is nothing more than a clumsy, big crow. They sit about on docks and festoon lampposts, waiting for their entrail lunch. Many don’t even bother to clean themselves. Although African Fish-Eagle are equally lazy, I’ve never seen one get this dirty. Sies man! (Check out its blurry buddies in the background.)

I guess all logos have their dark sides. Elephant dump huge piles of poo in the road. Lion fornicate all day. Springbok, well, Springbok are just a bit stupid, though I’d rather eat Springbok bredie than Bald Eagle pie.