Another reason I love living here

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Feb. 3 2009 8:00 AM

Another reason I love living here

On my way to the airport to head to Pasadena last Thursday, I was in a bit of a hurry. I left on time, but several delays (getting gas, putting oil in the car, forgetting my PIN at the bank, and a half dozen more assininities) had me about 15 minutes behind. I got on a side road with no traffic lights to speed things up, hoping to catch up on lost time.

Sure. When I do things like that, usually some disaster occurs to slow me down. But this time, what slowed me down was made of awesome. I noticed something odd on one the very tall power line towers following the road; was that a pair of insulators on top? Or two birds? Yeah, birds. But geez, hawks aren't that big. Could it be...

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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Oh yes, it could be.


See them there, at the top left? Maybe this will help:


Yeah, they're bald eagles (click the pictures to enoblify them, and there are three more images of them on Flickr). I've seen what I thought were eagles at least twice in the past near here, but they were far away and it was hard to tell. I've been fooled by hawks before. This time, though, there's no doubt.

I have no idea where this pair -- are they mates? -- are nested. There are no tall trees for literally miles around. Maybe they fly in from the foothills, but that's at least four miles away. I don't know how far they're willing to travel to hunt; but the poles lie next to a vast open farming expanse which must have thousands of rabbits, mice, and other prey. We see foxes and coyotes along this area as well, so the wildlife spotting here is truly wonderful.

I certainly hope I see this pair again, and when I do, I hope to have with me either a better camera or my brother-in-law, who has an awe-inspiring camera and telephoto. I'd very much like to get better shots of these gorgeous and majestic birds.