For my birthday this year, Mary and I decided to take advantage of the long President’s Day weekend by making a road trip. We went north to Klamath Falls, just across the California/Oregon border. I’d never heard of Klamath Falls before, but I found it on a list of places where bald eagles are common.
It’s been a childhood dream of mine to see one of those majestic birds in the wild. As it turns out, Klamath Falls is home to a popular birding event called the Winter Wings Festival which was, on my 39th birthday, celebrating its 39th year. What a beautiful coincidence, I thought. And as we pulled up to our Airbnb right on Klamath Lake, we were greeted by a fittingly beautiful sunset.
All the stars were aligned. Everyone we talked to confirmed that yes, this was definitely the place to see bald eagles. Our Airbnb host said she just saw one in their backyard a day earlier. And there’s often one perched atop a pole just a block away, she insisted. I was overjoyed by our good fortune: I would certainly see a whole FLOCK of bald eagles (that’s a thing, right?) and there was a good chance one of them would land on my shoulder and talk to me. We would be friends evermore.
There was just one thing we didn’t account for.
Just hours after arriving, the landscape was transformed into a monochromatic profusion of snow and ice which, while striking, also served a serious impediment to exploration. The picture above is in full color, in case you’re wondering.
So we made the best of it – getting to the places we could, just outside the boundaries of the mountainous terrain where signs warned that chains or snow tires were necessary. We had neither.
The world felt quiet. Any birds I saw were presumably frozen onto tree branches, and very well hidden from my ability to actually see them. I certainly wasn’t seeing any bald eagles.
On the plus side, when the cold got the best of us, we could return to the warmth of our Airbnb and its plentiful windows and lake view. Here’s Mary warming her hands by the fire.
Prior to the snowfall, I got this picture of the lake by just stepping out the back door for a moment.
But as the snow came down, I did see a disoriented bird on the choppy waters questioning its life choices.
I also made an early morning timelapse from our bedroom window because the view was just so nice. This is a little over 2 hours compressed into less than 1 minute, and if you’re as lucky as we were, you might see as many as 2 birds flicker by.
Unwilling to cede our original mission, Mary navigated us to a spot near the Klamath River where birds are known to congregate. The winter storm broke briefly to apportion some peaceful views.
Here’s a duck making a wild dash for a warmer location.
And then, after a frigid selfie, we returned to our Airbnb for our final night in Klamath Falls.
Here are a few other favorite pictures from our journey:
Klamath Falls. . . where this is the only bald eagle we saw the entire time:
Unless. . . perched atop the summit overlooking their bird minions. . .
Could it be?!
Elusive, stalwart, and majestic. . . ?
Yeah, probably not.