Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bird of the Day: Golden Eagle near Sonora Pass

Golden Eagle above Sonora Pass in the Sierra Nevada
The fog in the valley is gloomy and depressing and conditions aren't all that amenable for bird photography, so I'm digging into the archives for a few days, remembering sunny days on the road. I'm doing the same thing over at Geotripper, where I am exploring the Sierra Nevada beyond Yosemite, which is what our fall field trips did. And there were occasionally some birds to look at.

Twice on the Eastern Sierra Nevada field studies trip we saw what most of us agreed were Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos). The profile against the sky at least looks right, though as always I am open to gentle correction. The Golden Eagle is one of the largest and fastest of the raptors, capable of 200 mph dives. According to the Cornell birding site, the birds escaped most of the worst of the DDT poisonings in the 50s and 60s because their usual prey, small mammals, were less likely to consume the pesticide, unlike fish and birds. Their populations have been relatively stable, though they continue to die mostly at the hands of humans (they are protected by federal law).
Golden Eagle above Crowley Lake in the eastern Sierra Nevada

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