Bald Spot
February 12th, 2018

Saturday was Bald Eagle Day in Utah, and I figured my best shot at seeing one would be at the Fountain Green Fish Hatchery, where the Division of Wildlife Resources had set up an information booth. Sadly, said fish hatchery is now fully enclosed, which prevents hungry eagles from swooping in to snatch a trout. Indeed, the only bald eagle on display was stuffed.

richard with stuffedd eagle

Thanks to an abnormally warm February, the migrating raptors are fewer in number and widely dispersed; however, a helpful ranger offered some directions as to where I might find some.

“The eagle tree south of town,” he said, handing me a map. “You can’t miss it.”

So I set out with high hopes, confident that this February—unlike last—I wouldn’t overlook three giant birds perched in the branches of a cottonwood tree. Then again, it was snowing like crazy that day, and now—wouldn’t you just know it? Snowflakes were again swirling in the air.

cottonwood in fog

By and by, I came upon a small group of fellow birders huddled around a spotting scope, which I presume was pointed in the direction of the eagle tree. With my naked eye, I couldn’t make out the tree, let alone any eagles. I didn’t bother stopping, because one thing I have learned over the years is that you can’t take pictures of what you can’t see. And in a blizzard, you can’t see very much.

Continuing southward on SR 117, I craned my neck whenever I came to a tall tree. By and by I spotted a kestrel that seemed to be enjoying the blizzard just as much as I was. The way the wind ruffled its tawny feathers reminded me a bit of the woodland creature that dwells atop Donald Trump’s head. Perhaps, in keeping with the spirit of the times, the kestrel should be christened our new national symbol: Comb-over Chicken Hawk?

kestrel 2

I spotted numerous magpies and crows and passed dozens of turkey farms—still, no bald eagles, evidently none of which had gotten the DWR memo that this was to be their big day. Visibility was now down to less than a hundred yards, and I was just about to pack it in when suddenly I spied what was either an eagle or a large insulator atop a very tall power pole. I grabbed my camera, aimed and fired. Bingo!

bald eagle
-Richard Menzies