Juvenile eagles of 180th St

Sunday, July 26, 2020

The juvenile has white wing pits and a black beak

Text by Donna Hawkey
Photos by Gary Hawkey

Two juvenile eagles have taken up residence in a soaring high Douglas Fir on 180th St. in Lake Forest Park.

Juveniles are self-starters and fledge from the nest on their own. Bald eagle parents seek tall canopies to build the necessary huge nests, which are about 5 to 6 feet in diameter and 2 to 4 feet tall. 

Two first-year juvenile eagles take a rest while learning to fly

They prefer trees to be as high as possible for a wide-open view, and they build their nests close to the top. They also like to be near water for convenient fishing. And they can spot prey, such as a rabbit moving, at three miles away.

The mortality rate of eagles is higher than 50 percent in the first year of life, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. During the 1970s, bald eagles were seriously endangered due to many decades of hunting and harmful pesticide use; it wasn’t until 2007 that the eagle was taken off the Endangered Species list.

The first-year eagle has a brown head and belly, but its wing-pits (axillaries) are white. They acquire their white head (plumage) around four to five years old. The beak is black instead of bright yellow as on adult eagles.

At 10-12 weeks, they first start to leave their nest (fledge). But they stay around for most of the summer and learn from their parents, developing their flying and food hunting skills. On regular flights, they can travel about 30 miles per hour, but they can dive up to 100 miles per hour on the hunt for prey.

Eagles become most active between 7-9am and 4-5pm. Keep looking up to view America’s most majestic symbol of freedom, and sometimes right in your backyard!


Boni Biery July 26, 2020 at 1:53 PM  

Thanks for sharing this information. It's delightful to think we have welcoming habitat for these big birds. I'm concerned that in the not too distant future there will no longer be a place for them to land, let alone nest, in Shoreline. We are losing all of our tall evergreens to development as if they could be replaced overnight.

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