Hey look, it's a Bald Eagle!
Maybe you weren't going to read this post. It has a boring title, and it's obviously going to be about birds again. But I hope this photo changed your mind, because this is going to be a quick one, and it's going to be photo-heavy, and it's going to feature some cool birds.
The handsome dude in the photo above is a sub-adult Bald Eagle that was caught and banded at Hawk Ridge last week. This was the second eagle caught this year at Hawk ridge, and the second eagle caught by bander Miranda Durbin in one week, and also the second eagle Miranda had ever caught. The other banders are getting pretty jealous of Miranda at this point.
Bald Eagles take five years to develop full adult plumage, with that famous pure white head and tail. This bird is a sub-adult, meaning it didn't hatch this year, but it's not five years old yet. It's probably a pretty advanced sub-adult (third or fourth year) because, as you can see, its head is really mostly white. But there are a few brown feathers in there.
The bird also has some white on its wing feathers...
...and on the feathers at the base of its tail.
Here's counter Alex Lamoreaux holding the eagle.
Miranda and Alex and the other banders are brave souls. Let's take another look at that beak and those talons.
The bird could do some serious damage if it tried. Luckily, though, no one got hurt (birds or humans) and Alex got to set the eagle free.
So, getting to see that eagle banded was really cool. But up at the count platform, we see eagles flying by every day, sometimes as many as ten or fifteen per hour. So what really got us excited was a visit from some Sandhill Cranes.
We could see them coming from a ways away. Sandhill Cranes are huge and lanky, with long wings, necks, and legs. They formed beautiful shapes in the sky as they flew out of the clouds over Lake Superior.
Here's a (heavily cropped) picture of the cranes closer up. As if their huge size and crazy crane proportions weren't enough, they have these funky little bright red caps, too.
Here's a video from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Macaulay Library of Sandhill Cranes coming in for a landing. Along their migration route, they rest and feed in large groups, like the one shown here, and the sight of the cranes coming in to roost for the night or taking off in the morning is said to be spectacular.
The birds migrating over our heads at Hawk Ridge are pretty spectacular. But I have been enjoying the birds right here in the neighborhood, too. The part of Duluth where I'm staying is more rural than Newton: there are frequently bears, deer, and foxes in the neighborhood, and all the houses are surrounded by trees. The streets are wide and shady, and little footpaths cut between the blocks every so often; you can take a bike through or pass on foot through the trees without having to watch for cars.
All this is great for the birds, like this male Scarlet Tanager I found by my door last week.
There are also flickers everywhere. A flicker is a colorful woodpecker that can often be found poking around on the ground, acting like a robin. When they fly, they flash yellow feathers in their wings (or red, on the West Coast). This guy was sitting in a tree along the road, looking very handsome.
That's all for the photos! Coming soon: Broad-winged Hawks are starting to migrate in huge groups, called "kettles." I'm hoping to have some pictures soon! Stay tuned.
Jump to a Post
Welcome to Hawk Ridge
A Massive Migration
A Happy Birdthday
Photos from the Week
Visiting the Banding Station
A Watched Kettle Never Streams
Food, Part 1
The Big Picture
Last Weeks at the Ridge
Belize, Part 1
How to Look at Birds, A Guide (or: Belize, Part 2)
All Creatures Great and Small
Kids and Language, Again
More Photos from France
Food, Part 2
Building Nests in California
Please Do Not Pet the Woodpecker
Condors and Creatures in Big Sur
A Day at Hastings
I am a high school graduate taking a gap year before college. I’m interested in birds, biology, and the natural world, as well as history, foreign languages, writing, and reading.