[Tweeters] My Highest Bird

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Wed Aug 27 15:16:25 PDT 2014

Sitting on a rooftop high on a Port Townsend hill, I got to thinking - "what's the highest bird I've seen in Washington state?". I mean highest in the air, not high on fermented fruit or something.
Well, the answer was pretty easy really - a Golden Eagle. I was on top of Sourdough Ridge just above Sunrise, at 7000', when alerted by whistling Marmots, watched a Golden Eagle on a power glide over a stretch of subalpine meadows. It didn't nail a marmot, but I kept on watching it as it caught a thermal and went soaring up. And up, and up, straight overhead.
After awhile it disappeared from naked eye view, so, laying on my back , I watched with 7x binoculars, as it continued up in the clear blue sky so far it disappeared from view again! Remarkable.
How high is that? Well, I can see people with my current 8x binocs on the spit over at Fort Flagler from here - thats two and a half miles away thru dense sea level air - not the clear ether of 7000'. So a bird with a six and a half foot wingspan, should be visible for.... a long way up.
Second to that, I've seen Ravens at about 11'000 on climbs of Rainier. Those darn Ravens get around.
I'll have to admit to Eagle envy a few times climbing in the North Cascades: a soaring Golden Eagle can cover a remarkable distance on a single glide, in short order. The distance it took an Eagle minutes to cover represented days of hard cross country travel for a mere hominid on foot, far from the nearest cold beer.
Jeff Gibsonon the roof of Port Townsend Wa

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