Patience, Eagles

The eagles are invading Fish Creek as the first pulse of Dog Salmon move up from the salt water. Eagle roost trees mark spawning beds and holes where the salmon rest during their upriver journey.  You can pick out the trees even when they are empty for white eagle scat decorates the understory plant and down and feathers gather in the upturned leaves of neighboring devil’s club leaves.

Perched over the stream on a  thin alder branch, an immature eagle eyes us and some salmon moving into the current.  Aki wades into the water for a closer look at the dogs, who don’t react to her presence. Do they sense the eagle?

I call Aki back and wait, camera ready for the eagle to move. It does, launching out over the river toward the salmon, talons extended. There’s no splash or dramatic struggle between 10 pounds of salmon and the mighty bird.  It is just the fish, stream, and Aki looking at me with that, “Shouldn’t we be moving on” look.

The eagles must be waiting for the bears that will follow the salmon upstream. Those guys will do the heavy lifting of fishing salmon from the stream. If the run is strong the bears eat only the brains and rich eggs, leaving everything else for the eagles and ravens to squabble over.

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