Although not anywhere near as exciting as the Quebec Ross's Gull, there was an adult Golden Eagle soaring over Smugglers' Notch at Mount Mansfield around 2:15pm yesterday afternoon while out on a family hike. This bird was observed well by all six of us as it soared off the cliff-face updrafts on both sides of the Notch.
The undersides of the flight feathers were dark silvery gray, which contrasted with the mottled light on dark chocolate-colored body feathers and leading edge of the wings. Tail had a dark terminal band and dark silvery gray color to the underside of the tail feathers. Undertail coverts were buffy-colored. Golden-colored nape feathers visible on a few occasions as the bird turned. There was a noticeably longer tail-to-head ratio, and this bird also had fairly long narrow wings with distinct primaries while in full soar. Head was relatively small to overall body size and wing length.
The bird crossed over the Notch twice, banking and soaring just above mountaintop trees. Eventually the bird began flapping and followed the mountaintop edge and disappeared to the Southwest, headed in the direction of the peak of Mount Mansfield. I'm not certain if this bird was a migrant or possibly an over-wintering individual, since this is toward the latter part of GE migration and the habitat is certainly good. Worth noting for anyone who makes the trek up into this area of the Notch this winter.
We weren't prepared to be taking distant bird pics, but some backlit and slightly out-of-focus identifiable pictures were taken, for anyone interested.
Christopher T. Tessaglia-Hymes
Field Applications Engineer
Bioacoustics Research Program, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, New York 14850
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