Bald Eagles of Haines, Alaska

Location of Haines

Location of Haines

Haines is one of the many jewels in Alaska. Not only is it a spectacular place with draw-dropping, stunning mountains, but it is also the location of an annual and unique wildlife event. Every November, thousands of bald eagles (peak has been about three thousand) flock to and converge on the gravel and sand bars of the Chilkat river near Haines for their annual salmon fish fest.  It is the largest single gathering of bald eagles in the world.

Because of a geological thermal condition, the Chilkat river stays warm late into the fall and early winter, delaying the freeze-over. This allows the salmon to spawn late into November and early December. Over time the bald eagles have discovered this location and have flocked in for a last feast before the harsh winter.

The American Bald Eagle Foundation and the town of Haines sponsor a celebration of this amazing event every year during the second week of November.

Haines Harbor

Haines in Summer

 

Haines Harbor

Haines Harbor

 

Reflection on the Chilkat River

Reflection on the Chilkat River

 

Waiting for the Salmon on the Chilkat

Waiting for the Salmon on the Chilkat River

An eagle would rather steal a fish from another eagle than find its own.

Fish Thief

Fish Thief

 

Sometimes the defending eagle will back off and let a dominant one take the prey.

Retreat - A juvenile bald eagle retreats from an attack of an in-coming eagle that is attempting to steal its prey. Haines, Alaska.

Retreat – A juvenile bald eagle retreats from an attack of an in-coming eagle that is attempting to steal its prey.

Sometimes the defending eagle will rear up with wings and talons exposed to defend its meal.

Defense

Defense

Often an eagle will grab a piece of salmon and fly to the nearby trees for protection, enabling it to consume the fish without threats from other eagles.

Salmon To The Trees

Salmon To The Trees

 

Salmon In The Trees

Salmon In The Trees

The eagles on the Chilkat do not need to fly and grab a fish swimming in the water, as they do in so many other places. Here the salmon die after spawning and float to the surface or to shore. The eagles usually just walk to a carcass and drag it to the shore, where they can consume the fish. They often will squawk to the world to announce “this is my fish” and “do not steal”.

Fish Claim

Fish Claim

 

Savory Salmon - A bald eagle and its reflection consume a salmon on the beach of the Chilkat River. Haines, Alaska.

Savory Salmon – A bald eagle and its reflection consume a salmon on the beach of the Chilkat River.

However, as one can see, this strategy just calls attention to the catch. Other eagles will wait for the right moment to attack.

In-Coming - A bald eagle attacks another eagle in order to force a retreat and steal the salmon. Haines, Alaska.

In-Coming – A bald eagle attacks another eagle in order to force a retreat and steal the salmon.

Watch a video of a bald eagle squawking its claim over its salmon:

Bald Eagle Claims Prize

 

~ by richardseeley on February 22, 2016.

10 Responses to “Bald Eagles of Haines, Alaska”

  1. Nice shots again Rich.

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  2. Wonderful wonderful photos Richard! I have been to Haines and it was my favorite place on my Alaska trip. A jewel it is. Must be an amazing sight in November. I saw Eagles in early June there but not many.
    Enjoy your photography travels,
    Debbie Germano

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  3. Very impressive blog, Rich. Well written and nice images.

    Rod

    Sent from my iPhone

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    • Hi Rod, glad that you are enjoying my blog. I do not get to post as much as I would like to. Just so much going on. Hope that you get a chance to go to Haines. Its a real adventure.

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  4. Excellent work!

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    • Hi Skip, glad that you enjoyed the write up and images. I know that you love Alaska as much as I do with all of your fishing trips. Amazing place. Hope to return soon to continue the adventure.

      Like

  5. Magnifiques photos Rich !!

    Like

  6. thank you, Catherine

    Like

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