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Bald Eagles on San Juan Island

Bald Eagle catching a fish in the san juans
Fish is the primary source of food for the Bald Eagle

With over 125 nesting pairs of Bald Eagles in the San Juans, the possibility is strong you will see at least one during your stay at Tucker House Inn. Often one or two of them are seen flying over Friday Harbor, and occasionally there have been nests very close to town. Bald Eagles are seen around San Juan Island so much, you would think the residents would become jaded, but these magnificent creatures are awe-inspiring even to those who have been born and raised here. It has been said that the San Juan Islands have more Bald Eagles around than any other area in the contiguous 48 states.

baby bald eagle chicks in the san juans
Before the chicks are born, both Mom and Dad keep the eggs warm

You probably know that the Bald Eagle is not actually bald, but has white feathers on its head. In fact, the Bald Eagle has 7,000 feathers on its entire body! Its latin name is Haliaeetus leucocephalus, which translates to See Eagle with White Head.

The mature eagles mate for life, and their life span is from 20-50 years. Nesting pairs continue to use the same nest year after year, adding bits to the nest each year (renovation?). This results in large nests: one in Florida weighs over 2.7 tons, and another nest in the midwest has been visited by the same bald eagle couple for 35 years now.

The Bald Eagle is the national bird of the United States, and appears on the presidential seal, the presidential flag, and the seals of many governmental agencies. Here are some more interesting facts:

  • A Bald Eagle’s eyesight is four times as sharp as a human’s eyesight.
  • Males and females have the same coloration of feathers.
  • The Bald Eagle became the National Emblem and Mascot of the USA in 1782.
  • Ben Franklin preferred the Wild Turkey as the National Mascot.
  • Bald Eagles are only found in North America.
  • A Bald Eagle’s wingspread is about seven feet, but they only weigh 7-14 lbs.
  • Bald Eagles cannot swim; but they can sit on top of the water and “row” with their wings!
  • Possession of a single Bald Eagle feather can result in your being fined $5,000 and spending one year in prison.
  • Bald Eagles can reach an altitude of 10,000 feet
Bald Eagles on a perch in the san juans
Bald Eagles mate for life

So be sure to pack those binoculars when you are headed out for a hike or a drive while you are exploring the island during your stay at Tucker House Inn – and may your day be filled with awesome sightings of Bald Eagles!

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