Two eagles were spotted on the Bellevue College campus at the end of February by Kathleen White, an English faculty member at BC and a longtime volunteer at local wildlife centers.
White, keen to the sounds eagles make due to her years of experience volunteering for wildlife centers, was walking out of the parking lot when she heard an eagle call. When she first looked up, she didn’t see the bird. She then heard another sound from the opposite direction coming from a bird, which then swooped downward and landed in a tree.
Though the bird was far enough away that she couldn’t be sure if it was a juvenile eagle, she didn’t see a white tail or head, which are indicators that the bird is mature. “I didn’t see a white head or tail, and usually I can if they’re dropping like that,” she said.
The bird could have been a juvenile coming back to see whether it was welcome at its previous family territory, or a young bird hoping to scope out a place to nest for itself in the future. The other bird could have been warning the incoming bird that this territory has already been claimed, and that it should leave.
There might not necessarily be a nest on campus, but there may be one nearby. “This time of year, eagles are all over the place,” White said.
It’s possible that there is a nest in the region, and one or both of the birds spotted on campus were moving around to see what’s going on. It’s also possible that there is a nest in the area that is currently being protected.
White added, “There’s a lot of water around here. They could be using this as kind of a stopover to there.”
White commented on the fact that the Bellevue College campus was designed to be welcoming to local wildlife. “I’ve seen a lot of great birds here, things that are not seen necessarily in a suburb,” she said. “We just kind of bustle around and we don’t really think about the fact that this stuff is all out there.”
If there is a nest nearby, there will be eagles frequently going about their business close to campus. If there isn’t a nest in the area, it is less likely that the birds will be spotted often.
White shared that the sounds of an eagle usually featured on TV and in movies is not that of an eagle. The sound an eagle makes is more of a loud, fast chirping noise, and can also sound like a seagull, which is not what many people associate with the iconic eagle. Usually, the sound a red-tailed hawk makes is used in TV and movies.
If anyone on campus finds injured wildlife or anything they are concerned about or have questions about, they can contact the PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynwood. Since PAWS opened in 1981, the organization has cared for more than 100,000 wild animals. Their primary goal is to rehabilitate injured, orphaned or ill wildlife, and restore them to full health and return them to the wild.
“I think it’s good for all of us to know that these guys are around there,” White said. “While we’re all worried about our careers and our futures and stuff, they’re just fishing.”