Making proper identification of some birds seen in Maine can be tricky.
Habitat, time of year, lighting conditions and location all affect our ability to see a bird and be able to accurately recognize the physical characteristics, behaviors or vocalizations that set it apart.
That job is made even more difficult in the case of the golden eagle, the most widely distributed and successful species of eagle in the world, which according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has been designated as an endangered species in Maine since 1986.
Bangor Daily News contributor Bob Duchesne, author of our weekly “Good Birding” column, has fielded lots of inquiries about golden eagles over the years.
“They are seldom seen but often mistaken in the state, and I’m frequently asked to identify them from blurry, indistinct photos that obscure the helpful field marks,” Duchesne said.
Today, we’re fortunate to have some fantastic video of a golden eagle. Allie Ladd of Byron, with a little help from some well-placed meat, lured the gorgeous raptor into up-close-and-personal camera range recently in western Maine.
This time, the proof is irrefutable.
“It most certainly is,” Duchesne said. “Fortunately, it’s a full-grown adult, showing all the major markings. The white base of the tail and the feathering all the way down the feet show clearly. This one was easy, thank goodness.”
Golden eagles can be seen in Maine, but for every verified sighting, there are many others that turn out to be something else. Specifically, they are often confused with immature bald eagles.
In 2016 Duchesne, the vice president of the Penobscot Valley Chapter of Maine Audubon, wrote about this dynamic in a story about golden eagles. He pointed out the infrequency of confirmed sightings in the state and explained in detail the numerous identifying markings that distinguish them from bald eagles.
And that’s why today’s video is reason to celebrate. The golden eagle can be viewed in all its glory, leaving no doubt the majestic birds can be found here in Maine.
Thank you to Allie Ladd for sharing another of his special Maine outdoors videos! They give all of us the opportunity to see things we likely wouldn’t experience on our own in the wild!
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