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Ask the Naturalist: Young Bald Eagle at Palo Alto Baylands?

October 27, 2014

Q: Is it possible we saw a juvenile bald eagle at the Palo Alto Baylands last Saturday? Its beak looked larger than a hawk — it was eating some prey on the ground, in the dry mustard stalks, possibly a coot. When it flew away, low across the water & up into a far tree, the wing span was impressive. It was mottled brown and white and seemed to have a greenish cast to the skin above its beak. It had a stern, stay-away look in its eye. It kept eating calmly until nothing left but feathers. I couldn’t see the talons.

— Frances, Mountain View

A: The short answer is that is entirely possible that it was a Juvenile Bald Eagle. Without seeing the bird myself, I wouldn’t want to declare it as certain (we also have Golden Eagles that are known to visit the Baylands, too – so I’d want to know more about the markings and beak coloration), but we’ve been seeing them in the area, and this is the time of year when they would be migrating through. There are also some resident Bald Eagles in the area (near Calaveras Reservoir for example), so it’s not completely surprising to find them elsewhere around the Bay. In fact, we saw one flying over a school in San Jose near Lake Cunningham just this week.

— Toby Goldberg, Programs Coordinator, Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society


The Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society was founded in 1926 and with over 3,000 members is one of the largest National Audubon Society (NAS) chapters in California.

Their mission is to preserve, to enjoy, to restore and to foster public awareness of native birds and their ecosystems, mainly in Santa Clara County. More information about some of SCVAS’ recent accomplishments can be found on their website.

Learn more

>> Read about a pair of bald eagles returning to nest at Anthony Chabot Regional Park in the East  Bay.

>> Have a puzzling question about Bay Area nature? Ask the Naturalist!

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