East Texas Quarterly Magazine Summer 2015 - Page 4

By Gary Hanlon Ketchikan, Alaska may claim to being the ‘Eagle Capital” of America, but the Piney Woods of East Texas may be a close second. Spotting eagles is a highlight of any visit to Alaska. And Ketchikan, with 30 nesting sites, is one of the state’s best places to see this proud bird. That’s because eagles know they won’t starve here—salmon pass through the area from April through September. Eagles even hang around in winter; the water remains ice-free, and the fish keep coming. Visit Ketchikan in May and you’ll start to see mature eagles preparing their nests. Their eggs hatch the following month, and through June and July you can watch adult eagles feeding their young in the nests. From You’ll also see eagles hovering around the cannery area and fish-cleaning spots around town. And if you’re walking along coastal areas, look up: eagles will often perch at the very tops of the trees (the higher up they are, the better the vantage point to see fish in the water). In fact, if you know where to look, you can see five to ten eagles on your own over a day or two. Once an endangered species, eagles have been making a comeback in the last few decades and are a highly visible part of life in Texas. With sighting as far north as Lake Buchanan to Lake Sam Rayburn in the Piney Woods, this majestic bird of prey remains a sight to behold. mid-August through early September, the baby eagles are learning how to fly, honing their flying skills, and practicing hunting pink salmon. You can see some of this nesting activity from the town’s roads and others from the water. 2 East Texas Quarterly Magazine The Bald Eagle is one of nature’s most impressive birds of prey. Males generally measure 3 feet from head to tail, weigh 7 to 10 pounds, and have a wingspan of 6 to 7 feet. Females are larger, some reaching 14 pounds with a wingspan of 6 to 7 feet. Females are larger, some reaching 14 pounds with a wingspan of up to 8 feet. Adults have a