Friday, January 16, 2009

The Day of the Bald Eagle--and Other Bald Birds

We rarely travel just to bird. There's usually a little hiking involved, sometimes visiting actual people. But on this short trip, our single (and some would say, singular) goal was to find birds.

Sea birds topped the list as motivation for our little jaunt. Being the "frugal" travelers that we are, I got this wild idea of doing a pelagic trip on the cheap--by ferry. After reviewing our options at this time of year, we decided to take the ferry from Port Angeles, Washington to Victoria, BC. (More on this later.)

Our first stop was Nisqually NWR near Olympia, Washington. Right out of the car we saw one mature and two immature bald eagles perched in a orphan Douglas fir. At the wooden viewing platform, we could see twelve eagles at once, perched here and there in the bare branches of trees lining the river. The Nisqually was running muddy brown, but the eagles seemed undaunted in the hunt for breakfast.

The eagles were truly magnificent, but more surprising was this little imitation of the baldies.

We believe that it is a song sparrow, and this little guy has been seen by others. Evidently, partial albinism is not unknown in the song sparrow world, but for us, it was a bit like seeing your dad with his 20 year old mustache shaved off--familiar, but weird.

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