Face to Face with the American Icon

By Jim Morris

More than a decade of traversing rice fields has afforded me a firsthand look at how vital they are for an amazing array of wildlife, from North American River Otters to Giant Garter Snakes.

I’ve had dozens of Bald Eagle sightings, but none like a recent encounter at a rice field along Highway 99 in Butte County. Perhaps there was a potential meal nearby to hold its interest, but the eagle I spotted had zero intention of moving.


Using cameras, a sandbag and custom wooden platform, I was able to get wonderful visuals from inside my car, leaving the majestic eagle undisturbed.

Look at those talons! Their grip is said to be about 10 times stronger than a human’s.
Although part of me wanted to spend all day visiting my new friend, I settled for about 15-minutes before heading down the highway. This is the most detailed video I’ve ever taken of these marvelous birds:

Bald Eagles are among more than a dozen raptor species who make their home in rice country. I love them all. In addition to eagles, I’m particular partial to Northern Harriers, White-tailed Kites and Red-shouldered Hawks.


Jim Morris is Communications Manager for the California Rice Commission. Jim has worked in communications for more than 20 years. When he’s not on the job, he enjoys his family, faith, football, outrageous monster stories and running marathons.