Monday, February 25, 2008

Encounter with a Bald Eagle

Every time I leave the house, I look at my camera and debate whether I should take it along. Usually I don't because I don't want to leave it in the cold car or lug it around with me all day. I have missed many great photo opportunities as a result. The one last week was no different.

Trash pickup doesn't exist in Homer. Instead, there are trash drop-off locations, which consist of a few huge dumpsters that everyone throws their trash into. They are free, and in strategic locations. I know of 3 in the Homer area. Ours is across the road from McNeil Canyon School. Last week when I pulled up to drop our garbage, I pulled into the parking area by the dumpsters and noticed a bald eagle standing on the ground across the parking lot, about 30 feet away. I threw my trash in the dumpster, keep an eye on it, not knowing if it might attack. It was unusual for it to just be standing there as I walked around and I've been attacked by a hawk before and didn't care for a repeat experience.

The eagle continued to stand there as I got into my car, back up toward it to turn around, and then pulled up right next to it. I was sitting in the car with the eagle just outside the door and we eyed each other for a minute. Then it cumberously flew up onto the snowbanks surrounding the dumpsters. Obviously it had had enough of me, but it was a choice, rather than a fear reaction. It was checking me out too, and didn't care for this big metal object standing right next to it.

I'm guessing this is a regular source of food for this eagle. Last week I saw an eagle on the electric post just above the dumpsters; it was probably the same one. I am consistently amazed at the lack of fear eagles (and other wild animals in Alaska) show for humans. It sure makes for some close encounters. And of course I'm regretting not having my camera every time this happens.

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