I remember as a young teen in the late 1970s my family took the inside passage cruise to Alaska. I saw so many bald eagles I couldn’t believe they were endangered. But of course, that is an area with little human encroachment.
Arriano, Alaska was my home for 37 years. I lived mostly in Anchorage, where bald eagles were not rare, but not particularly common (at least when I first moved there in 1962). The population of eagles, and people, have grown dramatically there over the years and now American Bald Eagles are a dangerous pest at landfills where they hang out looking for food. Amazingly, bald eagles are frequently bullied by ravens and it’s not unusual to see 2 or 3 ravens ganging up on eagles, particularly when in flight. Let’s keep in mind, however, that adult ravens in Alaska are enormous birds in their own right.
The inside passage, or Lutak, is still prime bald eagle territory. The Chilkat River, which empties into the Lutak at the community of Haines, is Eagle Central. A popular winter camping trip amongst naturalists is to spend Thanksgiving weekend along the Chilkat watching the eagles.
When I left Alaska in October 2001, I drove through Canada and then back into the US to get to Haines, where I took the ferry to Washington State. The highway to Haines runs along the Chilkat river and there were places where you couldn’t see the rocks in the river because there were so many eagles sitting on them. My favorite memory of that trip? When I re-entered the US, heading towards Haines, a solitary bald eagle (and the first I saw during the trip) sat in a tree branch overhanging the highway. It watched me, the only traffic on that early morning, drive past. Sort of felt like he was welcoming folk to the US.
Here is an interactive map showing rise and fall of eagle populations by state. Hold the cursor over the map. (Note: requires age and zip information be entered to access.)
Some better information:
New threats to eagles:
I remember an extended business trip to Juneau AK some years back—on the outskirts of the city, nary a fence post or phone pole was missing its own bald eagle. Not quite like pigeons in a city park, but not the rarety most of us in the Southern 48 thnk of.
But let’s get to the real heraldic impact—all the Scottish wannabees can now substitute real honest to gosh eagle feathers for the turkey feathers now legal for bonnet use. Whether this is a plus or not, I leave to your individual judgements…
As long as they’re picking up fallen feathers and not shooting the birds, I would not have a problem with it.