When a juvenile bald eagle leaves the nest, it is a mostly dark bird with variable amounts of white mottling that is sometimes localized in patches. Its beak and cere (nostril area) are dark brown and its eyes are dark brown. The immature eagle then goes through a series of five annual partial molts as it changes into adult plummage, usually by year five, and becomes the mature bald eagle that we most often recognize with that flashing white head and tail. This beautiful subadult is probably into its third year of age, identified in part by that osprey-like look to his face, his yellowing cere and tawny but not dark beak. This I have on the opinion of a veteran birder observing him with me, only because I asked. And I did ask because I had never had the opportunity to see these facial markings before. Pretty striking, huh?He was resting on a sandbar as we passed the Hiwassee Island on our return trip to the marina. Eagles are known to perch on the ground as well as on limbs and dead knobs.And just before we encountered him, we spotted two more subadults in flight coming from the same area. He is believed to be the third of a group of subadults seen hanging out together over the winter. He sat quietly as we passed, then finally decided to lift off, presumably to join his buddies. Need I say what a gorgeous sight that was? The power in those wings... In all we saw seven bald eagles, two adults and five subadults.
This is the second of a series on my recent Blue Moon cruise on the Tennessee River. Click here to see the first post.
Next: herons displaying at the rookery.
For the Love of It...
...the sage sees heaven reflected in Nature as in a mirror, and he pursues this Art, not for the sake of gold or silver, but for the love of the knowledge which it reveals.