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Bald Eagles

As a hunter, fisherman, and outdoor enthusiast, I enjoy seeing all kinds of wildlife — and that includes the various bird species.

As a wildlife artist, I have an even greater interest because I enjoy painting birds of all kinds, including songbirds.

While this interest doesn’t make me a serious bird watcher like some people I know, it does keep me on the alert as I travel about.

For example, just yesterday, I was on my way into town, and as I crossed over the bridge above Muncy, there were three Bald Eagles flying over Muncy Creek — two mature and one immature. As they glided and circled over the creek, my guess was they were looking for their next meal.

To be honest, I’ve seen this sight before at that same location and at a lot of other places where you might not expect to see eagles. On more than one occasion, we have been ice fishing, and an eagle would swoop down and grab one of the fish that we threw out onto the ice with the rest of the fish we planned to take home.

What I find interesting about sighting eagles is that they are such a large, very obvious birds, yet I’ve talked to some people who have never seen one around here, or it’s an extremely rare sighting.

Of course, a mature eagle has a white head and white tail, but that can be very hard to distinguish when they are soaring way overhead.

Something else to be aware of is that an immature eagle does not have a white head and tail. Until an immature eagle reaches the age of about four years, their overall color is a mottled brown with some white patches. Both the mature and immature eagle will have a yellow beak and yellow talons. With the number of turkey vultures we now have, I suspect, too, that a lot of people may think they are seeing vultures soaring overhead and not eagles.

Of course, a good place to look for eagles is along creeks and around lakes and ponds because, for the most part, eagles are fish eaters. Eagles will eat mammals such as rabbits, rats, and smaller birds, and I have even spotted them feeding on carrion.

When an eagle pursues its prey, they rarely enter the water but rather grab the fish from near the surface with their talons.

An Osprey will often enter the water to snatch up a fish, but it’s not unusual for an eagle to snatch the fish from the Osprey’s talons.

Eagle numbers have been increasing across the state, and more and more nesting sites are showing up. I know of at least three nesting sites, all fairly close to Muncy, which explains the eagles, both mature and immature, showing up along Muncy Creek.

Of course, that means that we are sharing the same interest in the trout and bass in our local Susquehanna River and local trout streams.

While fishing the regulated trout stretch on Muncy Creek a couple of years ago, I watched a mature Bald Eagle drop from his perch in an overhanging tree and grab a nice trout; that was one more than I had at that point.

As many eagles as I have been fortunate to see, I’ll still have to admit that it’s still an exciting encounter. Keep your eyes open.