Bald, not Golden


Yesterday, a friend told me that she had just seen a Golden Eagle that was hunting by the lakeshore. I was assured that it must have been a golden as it was particularly large and brown. 

Hmm…, I was skeptical that a golden was what was seen. The problem is that a Golden Eagle didn’t quite fit the proffered description. Consider, a Golden Eagle: 

• prefers to hunt small mammals in the uplands, not fish at the lakeside
• a Golden Eagle is not particularly large, being slightly smaller than a Bald Eagle
• is brown, but so is a juvenile Bald Eagle, which does hunt over the lake
• can be distinguished from a bald by, among other things, it golden nape

Today, I visited the nest of a Bald Eagle, where its two (brown) chicks were holding court. When they fledge, they will appear larger than their parents for their feathers will not have been worn. However, they will lack the golden nape. 

Juvenile Bald Eagles are often misidentified as Golden Eagles, a result of being both brown and of wishful thinking.

Looking for an illustration, I visited a Bald Eagle’s nest and photographed two (brown) Bald Eagles chicks (and mommy) sitting on a nest.


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3 Responses to Bald, not Golden

  1. Trevor Goward says:

    Hi Alistair

    A splendid image which, besides, seems ready-made to illustrate some moral precept like, e.g., it’s unwise to talk behind your parent’s back.

    • Alistair says:

      Trevor, thank you (I hadn’t thought of eagle ethicalities). Getting that shot was a compositional and technical challenge. The two chicks were constantly moving and were often hidden by parts of the nest or by branches, so that image was the happenstance of timing. Then there was the technical matter that the nest was high in a distant tree, fully a hundred metres away. Under the circumstances, any detailed and sharp composition would count as a success, but that image was a winner.

  2. Tresy Kilbourne says:

    What about this one ( Landed directly over head of me down at the Selkirk College Trails last April. Merlin thinks it might be a Golden.

    BTW, I think I saw you photographing the eagle trio up near Balfour on the 14th.

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