Bald Eagles in Southern Georgian Bay
By Bill Johnson

On an overcast, cold morning -- a classic somber late November day -- I sat in my cottage dining room finishing a high caffeine fix of strong Viennese coffee, when I noticed a very large eagle, scruffy brown and black, sitting near the top of a spindly dead tree hanging out over the shore line.

My gaze wandered eventually to the lighthouse across the lake on the southern tip of Christian Island, but I kept coming back to that dreary looking eagle. I simply could not identify it, and my frustration was growing. Then, the answer came in an instant, as at last it glided gracefully down to join in midair just over the water a wonderful adult Bald Eagle: a magnificent bird with white-white head and neck, middle tail feathers just as white, and a beak so vividly yellow, the contrast so sharp, the colours seemed to be painted on.

I’ve been a part-time southern Georgian Bay (north Tiny) resident since 1935 and have wandered the shore and woods ever since, but never have I spotted this noble bird, let alone two of them.

My son Ross and I spent an enchanted ten days exploring and fishing the Queen Charlotte Islands, Haida Gwii, a few years ago, where we observed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of these graceful birds swooping down to pluck fish off the surface of the ocean.

I double-checked my bird book just to make sure of the sighting, and yes, the picture was identical. I then documented the sighting in my cottage journal and reflected that this seems to confirm a suspicion I’ve long had – that wildlife in the area has been increasing these past 70 years.

The forests here were clear-cut around 1900 and much of the wild life disappeared. Now, my neighbours’ and our own managed forest seem to be helping create the right environment for a return.

My father Orm, who originally purchased the property, always said: “We can’t really own this real estate: we are just the stewards whose job it is to maintain it as natural as possible.” So it has been, and will be, as long as a Johnson owns this magical place.

Would any reader spotting a new or former resident bird or animal drop a note to me care of this paper (, with date, location, weather, etc? I will plot sightings on a map which, hopefully, could be published at a future date. (Squirrels, groundhogs, chipmunks, foxes, rabbits, skunks, porcupines, robins, crows, gulls and the like don’t count.)
By way of a specific challenge -- I’ve looked to no avail for a hooded warbler (yellow with black cap and throat) and would love to hear of any sightings.