I’ve seen bald eagles before: on coins, dollar bills and from about a mile away on the side of the mountain in Washington State. So, needless to say, I was a bit surprised to see one swoop over my car (while driving with the top down) in Reston, Virginia. Reston has a large population of big birds, mostly hawks and freakishly large Poe-esque ravens.
I heard we had some bald eagles too, but to see a bald eagle in the distance gliding, we just thought it was another big bird. But as it got closer to our car, we immediately noticed his white head and feather tips. He was quite a handsome dude and clearly had his fine sights on a snack on the side of the road. Since our car’s convertible top was down we got a great view of him flying over, not more than 25 feet above us. I pointed up and all the cars behind us stopped, clearly noticing this handsome bird. While technically no longer endangered (there’s about 10,000 nesting pairs now thanks to the elimination of DDT in the 70s that was killing their eggs), it’s still a neat experience. Especially considering I thought he was going to join us in our car for a little joy ride. He was probably a bit startled and immediately swooped back up into the tree line.
January 29, 2012 – Update:
Earlier this winter, my family living in Springfield, Virginia reported several eagles perched on the Huntsman Lake area. Local news in the DC Metro region picked up the story and reported as many as 28 eagles in total. Nancy Soschin snapped a slew of pictures which you can view here: