~ A Five Year Odyssey to Maturity ~
When I first saw this beauty, I thought it might be a Golden Eagle. After checking with eBird (Cornell Lab of Ornithology), I learned it was a one year old Bald Eagle. Brown all over, lighter brown on the back. At one year old, it has just a hint of yellow on its beak.
Seeing this one on the shoreline still asking adults to feed it, I thought it was a juvenile! Since then, I’ve learned the mottling on its chest and extensive white on the wingtips, plus the emergence of yellow on its beak indicate it is about two years old – an immature, but not a juvenile!
By three years old, Bald Eagle’s still have some white on their chest and underwings, but black-brown feathering is dominant. In the top photo a distinct dark eye-stripe, between its white crown and grey chin-feathers, are characteristic of this still immature age.
By four years old, Bald Eagles gain their stark-white head and tail-feathers, and their fully-feathered black-brown body. Between four and five, Bald Eagles are fully mature, mate for life and fiercely protect their progeny.
When this Northern Harrier harassed a mature Bald Eagle, the scene changed in an instant!
So many changes – some immediate – some gradual, some positive – some devastating. Sending prayers to those who have had their lives turned up-side-down by events beyond their control.