4 min read

This Awkward Photo Of An Eagle Isn't What It Seems

"The eagle looks so surprised as if he is saying, ‘That was not me!’”

Christian Sasse was up to his hips in water, waiting for that perfect picture of a bald eagle. The photographer, who documents the eagle population in Vancouver, British Columbia, didn’t realize he was about to take a photo unlike any he’d captured before.

The eagle Sasse was observing had come to the beach in search of a snack. “During low tide [the eagles] can access the intertidal zone,” Sasse told The Dodo. “And we have a lot of fish called midshipman fish there that are high in protein for eagles.”

Sasse snapped a few photos and left for the day, not expecting anything spectacular. But when he reviewed the shots later that night, he started cracking up: “When I came home, I looked at the photos, and said, ‘Oh my gosh, this is just too funny.’”

In one of the shots, a mysterious stream of water seemed to be coming from the eagle. It looked to Sasse as if the bird was peeing, but he knew that was impossible.

Like most birds, eagles expel their pee and poop at the same time. “It’s very white and it’s completely different,” Sasse said. “It’s like a normal bird’s only it comes in quite a big squirt. It’s not like water.”

So, then, why did it look as if the eagle was going number one? The explanation was quite simple: geoduck clams.

“You’ll only find geoducks at very low tide and you might not know you’re standing over one until it squirts you with water as it swiftly digs itself deeper,” Sasse wrote in a Facebook post. “This is exactly what happened in this picture! And the eagle looks so surprised as if he is saying, ‘That was not me!’”

A geoduck clam on the beach
Wikimedia Commons/Nightflyer

Sasse’s Facebook followers agreed that the timing of the photo was perfect, making it a once-in-a-lifetime shot.

Sasse's photography usually verges on the serious side, but in this case, he was glad to brighten people's days.

“I published that one picture, and it became a hit by surprise — people liked it,” Sasse said. “Sooner or later you’re going to catch something that nobody else has done. And this was one of those hilarious moments.”

To learn more about eagles and other birds, you can follow Sasse on Facebook and YouTube.