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Eagles on the Backshore

Bald Eagles sitting on the Backshore rocks draw attention on a cold day.

Two Bald eagles beckon to those walking or driving along the Backshore mid-afternoon on Nov 25th. They are ‘perched’ on separate rocks - contently looking out to sea. Kathy states that they were in the same place for over an hour, and that she saw 2 more eagles flying over the water.

Daisy appears with her binoculars (Remember the blog – ‘Daisy’s Eagles’; May 4, 2022). And, last week Daisy called to tell me that the eagle pair was at TEIA – one perched on a piling.

Why are they sitting there for so long? Watching a pair of Great Cormorants on a rock nearby (dinner?). However they do not appear interested.

The male on the outer rock squats and poops. Getting that business over, he flies over to the female. After ‘perching’ the pair face each other - beak to beak - for at least ten minutes. We ask what are they thinking? A time of bonding? ‘Talking’ about all those people with binoculars staring at them from the shore?

Seeing the elegance of these birds - the dark brown plumage covering their backs, one might think they are sunbathing. Even though the temperatures are still below freezing, we notice the sun’s warmth. As the sun lowers over the horizon, we feel the cold approaching. Perhaps they do as well: first the male flies off and several minutes later, the female follows.

In his book ‘The American Eagle’, John Pezzenti states that in the winter months Bald Eagles spend 98% of their time roosting or perching motionless to conserve energy. With approximately 8000 feathers on a Bald Eagle, several layers of these feathers provide warmth.

The morning after the overnight storm (November 27th) we observe through a spotting-scope four eagles perched on Junk of Pork (small island next to Outer Green Island) and hundreds of gulls flying around the island. What attracted them to this site? A source of abundant food after the storm? What is the food source? Are our visitors from the 25th among them? Are the juveniles and parents staying together? Unfortunately they are too far away to figure that out.

Bald Eagle Facts (1):

Females are larger: Up to 14 pounds; 8-foot wingspan

Males are smaller: 7-10 pounds; 6.5-foot wingspan

Mate for life, return to the same nest, and add a new layer each year.

Nests are built on top of trees making it easier for the eagles to take off and land.

Immature eagles leave the nest for the first time at ~ 4 months old.

Adults generally leave the nest and migrate south (Casco Bay pair may stay all winter with the young?)

The juveniles stay and roost at the nest site while they learn to hunt and fish.

There is a low survival rate for the young eagles.

At approximately 5.5 years of age they lose all of juvenile feathers.

They can live up to 20-30 years.

1. Pezzenti, John, Jr. 1999. The American Eagle. Viking Studio.


By: Patty Wainright, Kathy Hanley, Valerie Kelly.

Photos: Kathy Hanley

Photo of eagle at TEIA: Daisy Braun

Reviewed by: Sam Wainright, Marty, Michelle Brown, Michael LaCombe


Welcome to

The Backshore Bird Blog


The objective of The Backshore Bird Blog is to share the wonder and diversity of bird species seen along the Peaks Island shore.

If you like birds...

take a look at our list of the 100 varieties of birds that have been spotted around the Island here. How many can you spot?

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