Day 5 on the Chilkat River
November 2010
Day five was still somewhat wet and began with us watching an eagle take a live salmon. These fish were much too big for
them to carry in flight. Rather, they usually nabbed the fish in shallow water and walked or swam the fish to shore. These
fish have spawned. They had some fight left, but were only a shadow of their former selves.
As usual, food had to be defended so it pays to eat fast.
It is usually pretty obvious when an eagle is about to try to steal a fish. An eagle in flight will come charging in with talons
out stretched making the eagle with the fish very vulnerable.

Or, an eagle will walk in a hunch back manner (the Nixon walk) and you know he is about to challenge another eagle for a
fish.
Day five had to be our most exciting day.

At the end of the day, the Eagle Foundation had an eagle release by the native tribe that has lived in the eagle preserve
area for many centuries. The eagle had fallen from its nest last spring. It was now a fully grown immature eagle and was
ready to be released, they said. There was an impressive ceremony with drums and singing of traditional native songs.
Note the eagle being held by one of the elders.
When the eagle was released, it stood confused on
the banks of the river. Then it tried to fly and fell into
the river. There it floated down river. Eventually, it
used its wings to swim ashore. The people in charge
of the festival confidently stated that the eagle would
be fine.

The next day we had lunch at Mile 33. As we were
leaving, the state park ranger came in. They had just
rescued the released eagle and he was returning to
captivity. He was not ready for his freedom yet.
And finally, on day 5 we saw a number of other birds including trumpeter swans.
Day five was probably our best day!