photo by Jim Anderson
photo by Jim Anderson
The photo accompanying this story on page 25 of a bald eagle leaving its juvenile life and slowly becoming an adult shows why that phase of the eagle’s life can cause a lot of trouble among birders: Some observers just don’t know what to call it.

It’s especially confusing before the yellow beak comes into the adult phase. Before that, it’s dark brown to black in color tones and, coupled with the white feathers just starting to appear on the nape of the bird’s head, many people mistakingly call it a golden eagle.

If you want to spend some time with bird ID experts, the opportunity to do so is coming up. Local birders involved with the East Cascades Audubon Society (ECAS), are getting together to conduct the Green Ridge Fall Raptor Survey — and they would love to see members of the public join them.

East Cascades Audubon Society’s 15th Green Ridge Fall Raptor Survey will kick off the weekend of September 21-22, followed by September 28-29 and the first three weekends of October.

“Our goal is to catch peak migration, but the third weekend of October can be touch-and-go due to weather,” said naturalist and birder David Vick, who has been helping to run the raptor survey for over 15 years and has this to say: “We welcome all visitors and volunteers, as the more eyes to the sky the better to assist in spotting and tracking migrants.”

Due to changes in climate there have been many things happening within bird populations in this part of North America. Southern species are being observed in places they have never frequented before, and there is a good chance these changes will be seen among the migrating raptors.

There is no better time to observe these changes and learn who-is-who among migratory raptors than to rub shoulders with birders who have been watching and counting them for years.

The public is invited to grab binoculars and scope and follow David Vick’s instructions: “Come up for an hour or stay the day but either way, the scenery and other species are sure to please — plus it’s a fun way to hone one’s skills in identifying raptors at distance.

“Mornings often start slow, with numbers building up as the afternoon progresses and winds help the birds along. The last eight miles to the site are dirt roads, but can be easily navigated by any passenger car. Detailed information and directions can be found on ECAS’s excellent website: under the ‘Projects’ tab. Hope to see you there!”