Eagles and Hummingbirds
Chilkat State Park

Haines, AK

July 21st, 2002

The next adventure was far less dramatic but just as interesting. We drove out to Chilkat State Park to see the two local glaciers. Davidson Glacier sits majestically across the valley from the park. Too far away to see clearly, it still presents a magnificent picture. Right next to it is Rainbow Glacier. This one is a little different as it is a hanging glacier. That is, it juts out off a cliff and just kind of hangs there in all its glory. It is quite a sight, although from where I was standing it was quite a way away. We stood and talked for a while with a park volunteer about the land and the creatures that frequented it. He pointed towards a hanging feeder and tried to convince Laura that these were local mosquitoes. After she gave him her "incredulous look" he then introduced us to one of the areas most famous feathered friends. Darting as quick as a bullet around several liquid feeders were a half dozen juvenile Rufus hummingbirds. Their parents, who took off for the south a short time ago, have abandoned these little creatures. The juveniles will continue to hang around drinking up the nourishment supplied by the volunteer until sufficiently strong enough to join their relatives in a migration that will take them some 3000 miles to Mexico.
A final stop was at the American Bald Eagle Foundations. Here we spent a couple of hours with Richard Cooper, the director. The center serves as an education and protection foundation for the American bald Eagle. The two most interesting points were first, a live cam production of an eagles' nest about a mile away. There were 2 juveniles in the nest still not ready to fly. Anyone can come into the center and watch the parents arrive with food for these lively kids who are all to eager to accept all that is given. The other neat thing was the spectacular wildlife dioramic display that covers the gamut from the tiny hummingbird to the giant Alaskan coastal brown bear. Over a hundred fish, birds, shellfish and animals are displayed in a natural looking setting covering 3 sides of the room. A printed chart is given out at the entrance listing the names of each creature as identified by a small number associated with it. It was neat to see just about every creature that walks, flies or swims in the inside passage. As we got ready to leave we stopped by the gift shop and sampled some syrup that is unique to the area. They had Birch Syrup (made by tapping Birch trees in much the same way they tap Maple trees in New England) and also some Spruce Tip Syrup that tasted nothing like the tree. So with our sugar level raised we were wound up and ready for our next adventure.

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