Category Archives: eagle

Man hits a bonanza with recent sighting of eagles

Photo Courtesy of Jim Kroll • These four bald eagles were observed along Mendota Road near Abingdon, Virginia.

Jim Kroll sent me a recent email about a Jan. 30 sighting he made on Mendota Road in Abingdon, Virginia.

“I saw three hawks and an eagle close together in the same tree,” he wrote in his email. “The eagle and one hawk appear to be almost side-by-side on the same limb.”

He added that he had never observed such a combination in the same tree.

“I did not know they got along that well with each other,” Jim wrote.

He noted that he regularly sees hawks near his home in Abingdon and occasionally sees eagles on Mendota Road.

“There was a second eagle,” he added. “The two eagles would fly off together to the river, swooping around each other along the way.”

He said that he watched the hawks and eagles for probably 30 to 45 minutes as they would fly away from the tree multiple times and then return.

He also reported that the hawks were larger than the eagles. This bit of information got me to thinking about his sighting due to the fact that there are no hawks bigger than a bald eagle.

Once I looked at the photo that Jim shared with his email, I realized that his sighting was more remarkable than he realized.

“All four of the birds are eagles,” I wrote to him after viewing the photo. “The dark ones are immature eagles.”

“All four of the birds are eagles,” I wrote to him after viewing the photo. “The dark ones are immature eagles.”

According to information from the East Tennessee State University Eagle Cam project, it typically requires four to five years before young eagles develop the characteristic yellow bill with white head and tail of an adult bird.

Remember that Jim saw a second adult eagle that does not appear in the photograph he shared.

I’m not sure what was taking place with this appearance by multiple eagles. I’m favoring the possibility that the young dark eagles might have been the young of the adult pair of birds. Female eagles are larger than male eagles, so it is also likely the adult bird in the photo is a male and the other eagles in your photo are all females.
The fact that Jim saw five eagles at a single location at the same time is worth commending.

I informed him that I feel lucky when I see one eagle or a pair. I told Jim that to see five eagles at one spot is exceptional and congratulated him.
After I shared my opinion that all the birds in his photo were eagles, he emailed me again.

“We were probably a football field length away from the tree the eagles were in and just jumped to the conclusion that the darker birds were hawks,” he wrote to me.
He had considered how large the birds looked in flight, and he noted that their size and wingspan had not seem right for hawks, but he said he never thought about the other three birds also being eagles. He also shared another photo of the adult eagles flying toward the river.

“Their wingspan was impressive,” he wrote. “It was cool watching them swoop around each other near the river.”

He also shared that he saw another eagle recently near the Nordyke Bridge, five to six miles from where he saw the group of eagles.

Jim added that he has seen eagles at the top of South Holston Dam and along the Virginia Creeper Trail near Alvarado.

The ETSU Eagle Cam project operates eagle cams in Johnson City near Winged Deer Park and in Bluff City.

https://www.etsu.edu/cas/biology/eagle-cam/cameras.php

Here’s some more information about bald eagles from the ETSU Eagle Cam website.
Haliaeetus leucocephalus, better known as the bald eagle, is the United States’ national bird and is an easily recognizable species even to the casual observer. No other bird has a bright white head and tail with a massive yellow bill.
Bald Eagles belong to the family Accipitridae, which also includes hawks, kites, harriers and Old World vultures.

The scientific name roughly translates to “white-headed sea eagle,” which is appropriate because these birds are almost always found nesting near water.

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To share a sighting, ask a question or make a comment, email me at ahoodedwarbler@aol.com.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com Bald eagles are often associated with wetland habitats.