Photo of the Month

Steeple Eagle #1

A bald eagle sits on top the cross of a Russian Orthodox Church. Kodiak Island Alaska. Joseph Classen.

Among the many magnificent creatures that call Alaska home, the bald eagle is at the top of the list. In fact, half of the world’s population of eagles live in the 49th state…that’s around 30,000! Eagles especially thrive in the coastal areas of the state, such as Kodiak Island, where a variety of food is accessible year-round. Even though the eagles are generally well fed in such areas, the pickings can be quite slim during the winter months.

Every year during the cold, desolate winters, hundreds of hungry bald eagles invade the town of Kodiak 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! Here is a recent video I shot of the annual eagle invasion.

While the mighty raptors are invading the town, they can be seen roosting virtually everywhere: on streetlamps, rooftops, boats, and anywhere that they can keep a close lookout for any food that may become available…no matter how small of a scrap.

One rather distinct place I see the majestic birds roosting from time to time is on top of the steeple cross at Holy Resurrection Orthodox Cathedral, which is the epicenter of Orthodox Christianity in Alaska, and also where the body and relics of St. Herman of Alaska are enshrined. Hundreds of pilgrims from all over the world come to visit Holy Resurrection, especially during the annual trip to nearby Spruce Island, where St. Herman resided for many years.

Though eagles sitting on top of the cross is a fairly common sight, there was just something special about this particular one, which made for a fantastic photo!

As with all images featured in the Photo of the Week blog, a large sized print (16 x 20 for this image) is available in any style at a 25% discount…but only during the week it is featured…so act now if you’d like one!