We had recently driven the highway near
Chase, BC, about 30 minutes east of Kamloops and were so surprised at the number of bald headed eagles that we could see in the trees near the South Thompson River. We made the plan to come back out soon to get some pictures.
Eagles are not rare in this area but we hadn’t seen them in these numbers before so this was quite amazing. We weren’t seeing their large stick nests, which are usually very visible high in barren trees so we don’t know where they’d been nesting.
Bald headed eagles are not bald, so the name is misleading but derives from a Middle English word “balled” that means “shining white”. The young are a mix of brown and white feathers, and we’re seeing that in the majority of eagles on this visit. Even the immature are large and when full grown will have a wing span from 72” TO 90”.Eagles from the north tend to be a bit larger than those from more southern areas but no matter where they’re from, the females are a bit larger than the males at 35 to 37” tall. Eagles weigh 10-14 lbs. and can lift up to 4 lbs.
They consider it a powerful symbol of courage as well as other significant meanings and use them in traditional ceremonies, including them as part of the decorations on their costumes. The eagle feather is treated with great honor and is the highest honor that can be given to a person.
Canada does not recognize the bald headed eagle with any offical label but they are considered a magnificent bird of prey. It is a different story in the US since they became the US National Emblem in 1782. They neared extinction in the U.S. in the 1970’s but that was withdrawn in June 2007 as their numbers having increased enough to say they’re no longer endangered. They are protected by law on both sides of the border.
We drove by the same place a week after our visit for photos and there was only one bald headed eagle to be found. I believe we were ‘honored’ to have seen so many of them as they enjoyed the view from their perches high in the trees in our neighborhood. Perhaps they were migrating and found this to be a great stopover location, and that means we could look forward to their visit again next year. In the meantime we can enjoy watching the trumpeter swans as they winter on the South Thompson River.