Mission: To promote the appreciation of wildlife and increase harmony between humanity and nature.

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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Dancing on The Wind!

Last Saturday was an unusual day on Union Bay. 

The brilliant sunshine was no match for the freezing temperatures and the frigid cold of the north wind. 

Normally the plant on this piling stands straight up.

Usually, dozens of cormorants catch the sun in this cottonwood on Montlake Cut, as shown in this photo from earlier in the month.

However on Saturday not a single bird was willing to try to ride the branches in the wind.

Instead the green-eyed birds sat in the sunshine along the south side of The Cut. This provided them some protection from the wind and their footing was significantly more stable.

Out on the water the wigeons and ring-necked ducks only seemed to move when an eagle passed over. When the ducks returned to the water it was not with their usual finesse due to the brisk wind and the rolling waves. 

When they needed to escape the buffeting, the buffleheads calmly dived, to the relative peace and safety of their underwater world.

The great blue heron huddled and hunted, out of the wind, behind the east end of Marsh Island.

The bridge to Foster Island broke the wind a bit, however in the one inch cracks between the sections of the bridge, the spray reached high enough to soak you to the waist.

The most surprising reaction to the cold wind came from the eagles.

The eagles twisted and turned as they chased after each other. The cold seemed irrelevant.

They took turns calling loudly in their strangely melodic voices. You can hear a similar, but softer, call here.

It seemed as if the strength of the wind inspired them…

… to sing and dance.

When another person attempted to cross the bridge I was surprised to find my lips too frozen to form words. This was not a problem for the eagles.

In the end one of the eagles decided to take a moment's rest. Apparently, even dancing on the wind can be tiring.


520 Update:
South of the old MOHAI museum the trees have been cleared and the section of the "Bridge to Nowhere" that crossed above 520 has been removed.

While on Foster Island the construction bridge, which will protect pedestrians while the new 520 bridge is built, is apparently progressing on schedule. The current plan is that by New Years Day we should be able to once again walk under 520 on Foster Island.

It does not seem like the construction is impacting the eagles too much as it is easy for them to follow their prey to a different location. I have not seen Eva and Albert sitting on the bridge or in their nest lately. This may be in part because I have been spending less time on Foster Island due to the construction. I would be curious to hear if anyone who regularly drives 520  has seen the eagles sitting on their normal lampposts during the last week or two. 
(My email is: ldhubbell at comcast dot net.)

Have a great day on Union Bay…where nature lives in the city!



  1. Hi - Love your postings - I drive the 520 bridge only a few times a week, so not so regularly, but I haven't seen them for at least 2 weeks.

    1. Thank you! Luckily, a number of other readers have sent emails saying they have seen the eagles sitting on or near 520 lately. My best guess is that you and I have just been unlucky with our timing. Hopefully our luck will improve in the near future. Thanks again for your comment! :-)

  2. Larry, I drive back and forth on the 520 often and have seen one or both of the eagles sitting on the light post regularly! It's these small wonders that just amaze me. BTW, where is their nest/ Can you see it from 530?

  3. Denise, I just found your email stuck in my site's spam folder. (I did not realize I even had such a thing. Sorry!) Yes you can see the nest from 520 but not safely unless you are a passenger. If you look south (best from the eastbound lanes) between Foster Island and the art sculptures you can see one tree that is higher than the rest. The tree has a green "ball" of foliage on top, bare trunk and branches and then the nest is a larger clump near the tops of the smaller surrounding trees. The tree is maybe a 3/8 of a mile south of the art sculptures. I hope that helps.