North Oregon Coast Encounter with Bald Eagles: Also How to Spot Them
All eagle photos courtesy Patti Barry
(Rockaway Beach, Oregon) – They're not only the grand symbol of our country, but they are cause for great attention when spotted. They've even been known to nearly cause car accidents along Highway 101 as some bird aficionados get so distracted by the sight of them as they swoop in and around the beaches.
Bald eagles are a major visual treat along the Oregon coast – and one woman had some fascinating encounters with them last week. Meanwhile, a coastal local offers some ideas on how to see more of the stunning creatures.
Patti Barry, a California resident with a second home in Rockaway Beach, was wandering her favorite stretch of beach this past week near Neahkahnie High School, at the northern end of town. A little creek there empties into the ocean, and Thursday morning around 7 a.m. in this spot revealed two bald eagles. But Barry didn't have the right camera equipment with her.
“So I decided to try again on Friday morning at the same hour with my long lens in hand, and was thrilled to see two pairs of them,” Barry said. “The three with the white heads are adult birds. They get those markings when they are around four or five years old. The fourth was still a juvenile bird.”
You can see in the photos that at least one of the eagles is eyeing a seagull with a particularly intense kind of jealousy - it's chomping on a fish.
Barry said three eagles actually had that fish earlier. She was watching them chew on it for about 20 minutes, when they seemed to suddenly get spooked by her and her dog. They flew over to the other side of the creek, and then unhappily had to watch a seagull take over the eating duties.
“The juvenile bird actually got proactive about it and swooped about fifteen feet or so over our heads several times,” Barry said. “I was a bit nervous and actually made my dog - he's 70 pounds - stay right by my side.”
They never went back while she was around.
Barry noted some other interesting behaviors of the eagles.
“While they were feeding on the fish, they kind of postured with each other over whose fish it was,” Barry said. “There seemed to be one in charge, but he would let the others near every so often. Two of them sat watching the gull eat the fish for about ten minutes, then they flew down the beach a bit and sat there together. After discussing amongst themselves, I think they decided to move on, and flew north towards Wheeler.”
Bald eagles are spotted in all sorts of places along the Oregon coast, from Cannon Beach and Seaside down to Brookings on the California border. Cape Meares, near Oceanside, is known for some spectacular sights as they try and attack nests of other birds along the cliffs.
Newport's Range Bayer runs various birding events along the central coast and addressed what time of year is better than others for spotting bald eagles.
“Anytime during the year is equally good,” Bayer said. “We have a lot of resident adult bald eagles year-round along the Oregon coast.”
Bayer offered some tips for increasing your chances of spotting bald eagles. He said bays along the coast will help, like Alsea Bay at Waldport, Siletz Bay at Lincoln City, Netarts Bay at Oceanside, Florence's Siuslaw Bay, etc.
“Heading out on an outgoing and tide is good,” Bayer said. “You'll find them perched on pilings or logs. Looking up at the treelines of bays will help if you're trying to find adults.”
Bayer said they're looking for fish and sometimes other birds.
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