Warp Speed, Mr. Sulu (Re-post)

(Note: this post originally published in December, 2010)

No, this is not a post about Star Trek, but does seemingly encompass a time warp! Images in this post are from a trip to the Chilkat River Valley, outside Haines, Alaska. The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) featured in this post seems to be “stuck in a time warp”. Bald eagles usually don’t develop their white heads and tails until their 4th or 5th year. This eagle has a “half-developed” white head, but also has some white wing feathers, which is not typical. After shooting these images, I made a stop at the Bald Eagle Visitor’s Center in Haines. Talking to one of the volunteers there, I found out that this bald eagle also visited the Chilkat River Valley the year before my visit … and in the exact same plumage as I found him. This was confirmed by a photo taken the previous year and used in a photo calendar that was at the center.

Here are some images I captured of this unique individual. In this first image, you can see the distinct white head at the front of the head, but the back of the head is a definite salt-and-pepper coloration of the subadult bald eagle:

Two-toned Bald Eagle

In the next couple of images, you can see the other major oddity of this individual … white wing tips!:

Two-toned Bald Eagle

Two-toned Bald Eagle

And in this final image, our eagle is about to put his talons into a fresh salmon dinner:

Two-toned Bald Eagle

Does this unique Bald Eagle still exist in this plumage? I don’t really know, but am hoping to visit the Valley of the Eagles in 2011 to find out!

(Update: did not make it back in 2011. But I’m tentatively planning on a return trip in late fall/early winter 2014 … even considering running a week-long workshop of it).



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Posted in 2013, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Nature Photography, Travel Photography
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