A Bald Eagle at Lily Lake

A Bald Eagle at Lily Lake

When Kathy and I first saw the bald eagle, we thought it was struggling to lift a big fish from the lake. Actually, it was standing on a submerged log, happily having a bath.

We rowed closer. The eagle finished its bath and flew to a dead tree above the water. As we approached, the big bird seemed more interested in its post-bath grooming than us, even with Rosie in the boat whimpering and pacing because, well, Rosie is Rosie; anything wild and alive is terribly interesting to her.

We paused and gave the eagle space. Finally it flew away, clean, and apparently happy in the afternoon sun.

The Nature Conservancy reports that the bald eagle enjoys healthy populations throughout its range, which covers most of Canada and all of the United States.

But this was not always the case. Only forty years ago, bald eagles faced extinction as a result of habitat loss and unintentional DDT poisoning. Public education, habitat conservation and regulation all helped its populations recover. Today they are a relatively common sight, even around downtown Vancouver.