May 19, 2013 by Rob Hurlbut
Bald Eagles In Dutch Harbor, Alaska
I spent the first three months of 2013 in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, working for Westward Seafoods. The bald eagles that hung around the compound where I lived were the one bit of wildlife solace that kept me from losing my mind while I was there. Those of you that travel through or live in the downtown area of any city have seen pigeons all over the fucking place, right? The bald eagles of Dutch Harbor fill that role. The fishing and crabbing industry has, in my opinion allowed these flight capable dinosaurs to flourish on an island in the Bering Sea.
A Bald Eagle Calls For Dinner
In the photo above you can see just how close these bald eagles were to where I lived. For whatever reason, I decided to give up San Diego for Alaska. Honestly, it was because I had taken San Diego for granted. I didn’t know it at the time, but I did. San Diego has the best weather on Earth and that’s why I moved here from Denver back in 2006. I forgot that fact but was reminded about it while I was in Alaska.
Eagles Hanging Out In Dutch Harbor
Anyway, I got to see more bald eagles in person on my doorstep than most people see in their entire lives. They were everywhere all the time so I took a lot of pictures. They were really close; close enough to make me think that if I tried to pet them they would rake their velociraptor talons across my face and eat my eyeballs for dinner.
Bald Eagle Shit
I cannot, in good conscience talk about bald eagles without talking about how they poop all over the place. They don’t shit like a dog or a cat or even other feathered friends. They shit like malicious teenagers that just had their internet privileges taken away. You can see in the photo above that they project their poop like Fox News projects their news.
Popeye, The Bald Eagle
There was one eagle in particular that I was easily able to pick out from the crowd and that was one that everyone called, Popeye. There is something wrong with his right eye; it’s squinty. Normally, a bald eagle can stare at you with both eyes at the same time, with depth perception that I can only imagine puts ours to shame. The fellow in the photo above, with his defective eye was constantly swinging his head around to see what was going on.
Popeye IS A Dutch Harbor, Alaska Institution
Despite his defective eye, Popeye the Bald Eagle is a very imposing figure. His talons and beak, especially at close range, look like they could cut through sheet metal. I walked by him hundreds of times while I was there and even fed him a few times.
Alfonso Venegas With A Bald Eagle
The photo above is just an example of how close we were to these bald eagles. They really were all around the Westward Seafoods compound and were a part of our daily lives.
Westward Seafoods Processing Plant and A Bald Eagle
By this time I’m sure you’ve noticed that all the photos in this post have the eagles perched in a very human world. That is on purpose because they are, after 3 months, the best photos of the birds I managed to get. I’d never been this close to bald eagles before so having them so close to where I lived was amazing for me. I did some hiking and took some wild shots of these birds but at the end of the day I had no zoomed in shots that could even compare to what I’ve presented here. Every shot in this post was made with an 8mm fisheye lens at a distance of three or so feet. Yeah, the lens my awesome parents gave to me a year and a half ago has become my permanent accessory. Cheers!