There is a nest nearby. I can’t see it, but I know it is tucked high in the tall Douglas-fir overlooking the river.  

Photo from Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife

Most Bald Eagle nests are within one-half mile of a body of water. After all fish is one of their favorite foods. The water, in this case, is a coastal shoreline and the Coquille River. Bald Eagles will also nest near bays, lakes, farm ponds, especially if they can find large trees, an unobstructed view of the water, and few humans.

Their shadows smoothly slide across the grass. Today they hunt.

Bald Eagles will hunt over large areas soaring up to 10,000 feet. In addition to fish, they will also take other animals such as birds, turtles, and mammals (like rabbits and rodents). They are not particularly fond of mammals, but will take them or mammal carrions.

Carrion, particularly in the winter, is frequently scavenged. They are considered to be an opportunistic predator meaning that they hunt when necessary and scavenge carrion when possible.

Every once in a while, they fly back to the nest clutching a large and noticeably heavy fish. Makes a weird shadow. Scares the little birds.

These large raptors are scary. They can sport a wingspan of up to 8 feet! Their body is just a few inches short of a yard. Adult birds can weigh upwards of 14 lbs. As with many birds, the females are larger than the males.

Bald Eagles will hunt other birds (such as geese and gulls). They are known to harass other eagles and Ospreys in an attempt to steal food from them. They are also known to occasionally steal food from other mammals and occasionally humans.

Big birds need big nests.

Bald Eagles build some of the largest nests of any bird. The size will depend on the supporting tree but are often 5-6 feet in diameter and 2-4 feet tall. The nest can weigh upwards of a ton! The largest recorded Bald Eagle nest was found in St. Petersburg, Florida. It measured nearly 9 ½ feet in diameter and just over 20 feet tall.

Building a nest is serious business and can take up to three months to build. These nests may be used over many years with additional materials being added each year. Sometimes ground nests, on cliff sides may be built.

One glance and you know what the little birds see.

Feathers of the adult Bald Eagle are quite distinctive with the white head and tail, brown body, with yellow beak, eyes, and feet. The distinctive color appears when the bird reaches four to five years of age. Both sexes have similar plumages.

Bald Eagles live a long time.

The oldest recorded wild bird, killed by a car in 2015, was at least 38 years old. Birds in captivity are known to live even longer.

Want to know more?

The Bald Eagle is one of the most studied North American birds and is the only sea-eagle found throughout North America. To learn more, visit the following references:
–Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, My ODFW “Raptors” (
–All About Birds, The Cornell Lab (…)
–Oregon Wild (
–USDI, Fish and Wildlife Service “Bald Eagle” (

What flies with a large pouch and never has to go through airport security? A California Brown Pelican!

Pelicans form graceful V-shaped formations hunting for schools of fish.

The California Brown Pelican stops by for a couple of weeks each year in Bandon. One of the best places to watch these large birds as they plunge-dive for fish is on Jetty Road SW near the mouth of the Coquille River in Bandon, Oregon.

How big?

California Brown Pelicans are hard to miss with a wingspan of nearly 79-inches and a body length of 54-inches! Their size is further underscored when they fly in neat, V-shaped formations over the surf hunting for schools of fish.


As they plunge into the water, their famed three-gallon throat pouch scoops up their prey. Only the California Brown and a closely related Peruvian species make these spectacular plunging sideline dives into the water. There are ten pelican species.

Where to find them

Pelicans congregate in large numbers at the mouth of several Oregon bays during migration. You will often see them roosting on rocky formations, pilings or peers or hear their loud “screaming” call.

They migrate to/from winter breeding grounds in southern California and Mexico. They range from Vancouver Island, Canada to northern South America. Approximately 20,000 pelicans living on the Oregon coast in the summer.


They can also be comical panhandlers and may beg from humans. They often hang out looking for opportunistic snacks such as fish scraps, crustaceans, lizards, smaller birds or eggs, turtles, etc.  U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife has warned the public to:
–Not feed the birds (human foods can injure or lead to starvation),
–Leave the birds alone (if they are hanging out here, they are not breeding), and
–Avoid attempting to pet them or interact with them (no selfies please!).


These magnificent dare devils were recently removed from the endangered list in December (2019). They are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. It is illegal to capture, kill, or possess a California Brown Pelican. Each violation comes with a maximum punishment of $15,000 in fines and six months in jail.

For more information check: US Dept. of Fish & Wildlife Bandon Marsh site at

–Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife Pelicans and Cormorants at (there is a link so you can hear their calls near the bottom of the page).
Brown pelicans lingering on Oregon Coast see:

Mallard ducks tolerate humans… maybe a little too well.

Mallard ducks are the most abundant and widespread waterfowl in the Northern Hemisphere. They are found from Arctic tundra to subtropical regions on every continent.

Mallard female and male (green head). Photo ODFW.

In Oregon, Mallards are found near coastal and inland marshes, fresh or salt water wetlands and estuaries; lakes, ponds, and rivers; and golf courses and agriculture fields. They are particularly attracted to shallow water with aquatic vegetation.

Flexible Omnivore

Mallards are flexible omnivorous eaters and will vary their diet based on breeding cycle, availability, and migration. As a general rule they primarily eat, or dabble, plant materials. They will also dabble gastropods (slugs, snails, etc.), invertebrates (flies, beetles), crustaceans (crab, shrimp, barnacles, etc.), worms, and frogs. They have also been observed hunting as a flock other small birds and larger animals.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife urge people to not feed geese and ducks. Feeding can create a concentration problem and invites disease outbreaks.

One Eye Open

Not only will they eat many different animals, but many different animals will eat them. Predators could include raptors (like eagles, falcons, harriers, owls, etc.), mammals (such as snakes, raccoons, skunks, cats, dogs, etc.) and others who target eggs and nestlings.

The ability to sleep with one eye open was first demonstrated in mallards, but is not believed to be widespread among birds. This ability allows one brain hemisphere to sleep, while the other is aware.

And Humans…

Ducks were domesticated at least 4,000 years ago in many areas for their meat and eggs. Pure bred Mallards are sometimes domesticated today for their meat and eggs. 

Almost all domestic duck breeds can be traced back to Mallards. Domestic ducks and Mallards are the same species, with some of the same genes. Mallards have the ability to cross breed with 63 other duck species and create fertile hybrid offspring. This ability can dilute a duck breed population and cause severe ‘genetic pollution’ leading to the extinction of wild, indigenous waterfowl. They are considered an invasive species in some areas.  

Mallards are the most common variety of ducks hunted for sport due to high population volumes. They are also considered to be quite tasty. Be sure to check with local regulations before hunting or taking any bird.


Mallards can become aggressive during the breeding season as they compete and work out territorial disputes. Aggressive behavior can include charging and chases, ripping out feathers and skin, and noise making. Males are generally more aggressive and will repeatedly attack each other. Domestic ducks are significantly less aggressive than mallards.

STATS: Color: breeding males have a solid, dark green head, reddish-brown breast, and pale body; males and females have bright blue patch on trailing edge of wings. Size will vary: overall length, 147 cm (23 inches); wingspan, 89 cm (35 inches). May migrate. Feathers: Special oils let feathers easily shed water. Mallards are adapted for swimming and floating, and some are even talented divers.

–Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife pages: Swans, Ducks, and Geese ( and Game Birds, Mallard (, and pamphlet Living with Birds (
–Wikipedia, Mallard (