Immature Bald Eagle -- Haliaeetus leucocephalus
at Presqu'isle

While canoeing along the Quebec shore of the Ottawa River near Point Alexander, I encountered an immature bald eagle --Haliaeetus leucocephalus. Even though there is a small colony 13 km upstream at De Swisha (Des Joachims), this is the first that I have seen locally.

2005 May 28

On Saturday morning I paddled up to the top of Presqu'isle Bay on the Ottawa River near Point Alexander. Around the corner at the top of the bay, I stopped to contemplate my surroundings and to have a snack. Along the shore, I noticed a bird-shaped lump that I took to be part of an old stump. (It couldn't be a bird; it was too big.)

But then I realized: "It was a bird!"

I reached for my camera, just before it took off, circled me, and alighted in a nearby tree.

bald eagle on log by the shore

Just an old stump.

immature bald eagle in flight

(photo by Bob: 2005-05-28 - explore

Checking me out.

bald eagle landing in tree

Landing gear down. Spoilers deployed.

Large bird in tree

(photo by Bob: 2005-05-28 - explore

An Eagle in Arcadia.

bald eagle with bluejay

The eagle's presence was noticed by some bluejays who tried to harass it. It just ignored them. I assume that both parties realized that the eagle was too ponderous to catch the bluejays.

This is my first close encounter with a bald eagle. The ROM Field Guide to Birds of Ontario lists the status of the bald eagle as "Rare to uncommon breeder. Rare winter resident. Endangered in Ontario." There is however, a small colony of bald eagles 13 km upriver at De Swisha (Des Joachims). There the Province of Quebec has established La Réserve écologique de l'Aigle-a-Tête-Blanche.

I would like to think that this encounter indicates that the local population is increasing, but I know of no other evidence to support this.

(A bald eagle does not fully develop its characteristic white head until it is four years old.)


Janice M. Hughes (2001), The ROM Field Guide to Birds of Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum and McClelland and Stewart.