Posted by: atowhee | June 20, 2020


There is no more formidable aerial predator in North America.  Some birds are faster, others more specialized like the fishing Osprey, some range more widely like Red-tails or Crows, some are even bigger like White Pelicans.  But when strength and self-knowledge combine they could hardly produce a creature more adept, more assured.  More than once I have seen Golden Eagles attacked by faster, more lithe raptors.  As the pesterer sweeps down onto the eagle’s back, he simply flips over  on his back and extends his deadly talons.  Cliff Eastwood’s most macho lines come to mind, eagle lines: “Come on sucker, make my lunch.”

Golden Eagle talons can exert hundreds of pounds pressure per square inch.  It is not a hand-shake, it  is a deadly clutch. No other creature not armored can ignore or disrespect such a bird.  On the bluff west of The Narrows there were two young and an overseeing adult.

Above you see the adult perched on the ground.  Youngster in air, to its right the small speck is a Cliff Swallow.  Colonies of them inhabit the same bluffs used by eagle and the nearby one used by the Prairie Falcons.  In one shot you see the Brewer’s Blackbirds that come–during nesting season–up from the sagebrush to pester the eagles.  Young GEs have white splotches like the one in the nest.
Here is correction from Rick Vetter who birds and lives in Harney County.  A “mixed” pair nesting there: I think the eagle in the blue sky photo flying towards the CLSW is a subadult parent. One of our sites with a Subadult and Adult breeding pair.

Juv Goldens at 10 weeks old when the fledge are jet black with brilliant white wing and tail patches, brilliant gold nape and perfect feathers, no wear. A sharp looking bird at that age.” 

Three evenings later we went back to watch.  This time we saw an adult in the air, then after it landed it was joined (on the left) by a slouching juvenile on the nest:


And here is one of two GEs we watched soar high over a ridge at the western edge of Krumbo Pond when the sun  created some enticing updrafts and other raptors joined the circle (Swainson’s, red-tail):KRUMHAWK7

Here’s the last Field Station birding trip for 2020:   Sept. 12(Sat)-Sept. 18(Fri)
This trip will allow us to spend a full day in the Steens where we will go to the peak at just under 10,000 feet elevation.  In the late summer we may get access to areas closed during breeding season.  There may be migrating raptors passing through the valley and mountains.  While many insectivorous birds will be gone there will also be songbirds on migration including huge numbers of White-crowned Sparrows and their cousins from several species.

Mammals possible on trips include: Belding’s ground squirrel, pronghorn, wild horses, mink, river otter, long-tailed weasel, badger, coyote, mule deer, yellow-bellied marmot, kit fox, Nuttall’s cottontail, black-tailed jackrabbit, bats, California ground squirrel. 

Arrive for dinner on the 12th, depart after breakfast on the 18th. To get more information or sign up for these trips, call the Malheur Field Station at (541) 493-2629.

Summer Birds 2020


  1. Nice shots! Love the nest shots!

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