Bald eagles

There’s at least one more post coming up on that gender bias study, but in the meantime, we clearly need some nice, soft, feminine photos here.

Most of the world’s population of bald eagles is found in Alaska and here in BC. In Vancouver, they’re sometimes seen flying high overhead or perched up high in a tree. Travel north from here, and they become almost as common as seagulls, gliding above beaches, swooping down on buildings and poles. The photos here were taken in Port Hardy and Prince Rupert.

“Bald” eagles are not actually bald – “balde” is an Old English word for “white,” referring to the characteristic white plumage on the eagle’s head, and the name stuck. They only acquire that look as they reach maturity, around 4-5 years of age. (Their natural lifespan is around 20 years.) Juvenile eagles look quite different, to the extent that they could be mistaken for a different species. Here’s one.

Eagles are often thought of as majestic, dignified, aloof. But come here to the B.C. coast, and see what happens when they find a dead fish on the beach. Several of them will be jousting for it, circling the site, swooping on the fish, tearing a piece of meat and flying off again in an eyeblink. It’s a fascinating spectacle, it’s tremendous fun to watch, and it’s not the slightest bit dignified.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Bald eagles

  1. faz

    heheh thanks for explaining the ‘bald’ part I always wondered about that!

  2. plm

    Vancouver is really great -a little cold maybe.

    I wonder where else you find bald eagles, skunks, racoons, squirels, crows, etc. wild, on campus.

    I remember touching paws with a racoon. :)

    I think there have been bears too, though I never saw those.

  3. plm – I didn’t know that you used to live in Vancouver!

    You’ve left out coyotes. I’ve seen them around parks and residential streets, and there was one that used to hang around campus, right by the math buildings. As for bears, last year one was found in a dumpster in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre underground parking lot, in the middle of downtown. The theory is that he hitched a ride from North Vancouver in a garbage truck.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2011/12/12/bc-bear-downtown-vancouver.html

  4. plm

    Yea! Coyotes!!! I remember seeing one when we first came with my wife (Ana Mingorance-Le Meur, I am Paul Le Meur) to visit, before she was appointed as a postdoc with Tim O’Connors. We were in a bus, it was like on a grass patch in the middle of the road, I can’t remember exactly where now… It was just incredible.

    Then we lived from 2006/03 to 2009/03 and never saw any again.

    I saw you several times in the math building, but I could not get into grad school and abandonned scholarized studies -but not mathematics. I really have yet to contribute something substantial to society, I’ll do my best. I am thinking about starting a blog, well…

    In any case, thanks for the great blog. And your Bulletin, on additive combinatorics and analysis, article is really great, it covers alot of ground, gives a sense of how broad mathematics can be.

    Trying to say something useful: Here in Bordeaux I have talked with Alexandru Buium, he told me that he quit additive combinatorics when the subject became fashionable -after I remarked the subject is interesting and fashionable.

    And then told me he was working on (and was quite optimistic he could prove) a characterization of the equality case in Kneser’s theorem. I can’t remember his precise statement, the output was a Bohr set (or 2 Bohr sets). I don’t remember well so this is only a conjecture of a conjecture.

    Thanks again, and for the bear story. :)

  5. Richard S├ęguin

    We have bald eagles in Wisconsin as well. I was walking one winter day in the UW Lakeshore Preserve with my dog along the lake when suddenly she pulled me off the path towards the water to look at something in the snow. It turned out to be a rather fresh looking and blood-red organ – possibly a heart or liver with blood vessels extruding from it. After I photographed it, we started to walk away and I suddenly felt inspired to look back and up. There was a bald eagle in a tree directly over the organ. It was a very grey day, and the eagle looked almost ghoulish with a pale face and wrapped in a black cloak.

    By the way, bald eagles are not top predators in the bird world. In North America, that title goes to the magnificent great horned owls, who in turn are probably rivaled most closely by the golden eagles.

  6. plm

    I should correct this at least in my comment: Tim O’Connor, not “O’Connors”.

  7. plm

    I’ve just realized there is a much more serious mistake in my comment:

    I meant “Yuri Bilu”, not “Alexandru Buium”.

    I am quite ashamed of that mistake, I feel I look like a crackpot.
    Yuri Bilu is the head of the 2nd year of Master program (equivalent of Master in North America) at Bordeaux 1 university here. And I had the conversation I mentioned when I was in the process of applying to get into the program. I am currently enrolled in M2.

    I am very sorry for that mistake. I had been reading texts of Buium (whom I never met) and mixed the 2. “Bilu” sounded romanian to me, but he was born in Minsk, as I checked now on his webpage.

    Yuri Bilu has worked in additive combinatorics. I guess you know him.

    I am really sorry how weird my comment must have sounded.

    Another thing, I am not sure anymore whether we saw the coyote the first time we went to Vancouver (summer 2005) or later, in 2006. Sorry again.

  8. plm – No worries! Good to know who you are and what you do. That Bulletin article seems like such a long time ago now…

  9. A bald eagle would come by my place every couple of weeks to check on the local bird population. Every once and a while it would swoop down on a local nest and eat an egg, or a hatchling. The babies parents would raise quite a racket whenever that happened. That’s my impression of bald eagles. I also see them snatching fish out of the stocked lakes around here.