There are few things as majestic as witnessing an eagle in flight, soaring high through rugged mountain passes and gliding over calm waters as a new day dawns. The eagle goes where it chooses, effortlessly passing over barriers and obstacles of all kinds. For Americans, especially, this mighty raptor embodies the freedom we hold so dear, constantly strive for, and will fight to the death to protect.
While the majestic bald eagles, and other birds of prey, symbolize all that is wild, free, and regal, the reality of their existence is something quite different from what most imagine. In truth, the eagle’s life is not so liberated, but rather, it is one of harsh survival and enslavement to the cycles of nature. During the summer months in places like Alaska, eagles thrive and feast like kings on an unlimited supply of protein-rich salmon, which they gorge themselves on daily. However, as summer turns to winter and the last of the spawning fish die and disappear, the eagles become homeless nomads, traveling the trail of blood, desperately searching for the next meal, no matter how small or unpalatable.
Every year during the cold, desolate winter months, hundreds of hungry bald eagles invade the town of Kodiak Island, Alaska, to gather around the boat harbors and fish processing plants, desperately searching for a meal! The eagles aggressively invade fishing boats that are offloading a catch, and fight (sometimes to the death) over scraps of food they find around the fish canneries. The intense struggle for survival is an unbelievable sight to behold!
One of my favorite things to do during the winter months on Kodiak is to film and photograph this annual invasion of eagles. I got some pretty incredible footage this year that I made into the video posted below…