We travel to see things we cannot see at home: different cultures, different landscapes, different wildlife. It’s easy to think that because we share a common language, Britons visiting the US might find it too much like home. But I’ve never found it so.
Take birds for instance. Many of the birds I see in the US cannot be found at home in the UK. And two species in particular always attract my attention; one because it is such an icon of US culture, the other because it is an interesting contrast with a favourite British bird.
Is there a more iconic American bird than the Bald Eagle? Surely not, as it is the country’s national bird. I’ve been excited in the past to glimpse them but it was only on our most recent road trip there, in Washington State, that I managed to get some decent photos. I have already posted a couple of those, taken in Cornet Bay. Although that was probably my most exciting sighting, it wasn’t the only one, so here are a few more photos of this iconic bird taken in various parts of the state.
Wikipedia tells us that:
The bald eagle is an opportunistic feeder which subsists mainly on fish, which it swoops down and snatches from the water with its talons. It builds the largest nest of any North American bird and the largest tree nests ever recorded for any animal species, up to 4 m (13 ft) deep, 2.5 m (8.2 ft) wide, and 1 metric ton (1.1 short tons) in weight. Sexual maturity is attained at the age of four to five years.
Bald eagles are not actually bald; the name derives from an older meaning of the word, “white headed”. The adult is mainly brown with a white head and tail. The sexes are identical in plumage, but females are about 25 percent larger than males. The yellow beak is large and hooked. The plumage of the immature is brown.
When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin’ along, along
There’ll be no more sobbin’ when he starts throbbin’ his old sweet song
What image do you have in your head when you hear that song? I guarantee that it will differ depending on where you live. Here in the UK we are very fond of Robin Redbreast, as we call him. It was many years before I discovered that our European Robin looks very different from his US cousin. And indeed they are cousins in name only, as they are from distinct species. Our European Robin is a member of the chat family, while the American Robin is a thrush.
They have in common the distinctive red breast, but the American Robin is larger, almost twice as long. And as with the Bald Eagle, it was in Washington State that I got my first good look, and decent shots, of one. Or in fact two, as these images show.
And just for contrast, here is a European Robin, photographed just a few days ago in my local park.
I’m sharing these for Lisa’s Bird Weekly theme of ‘Birds perched up’. So to finish, here are some more perching birds photographed on that trip through Washington State, not all of which I’ve been able to identify. Maybe US readers can help me out?
I visited Washington State in 2017