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Posts Tagged ‘bald eagle nest’

It was really cool on Monday to see a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) working on a new nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge while the other member of the couple kept watch from a nearby tree. I suspect that this is the same nest that another frequent visitor to the refuge recently photographed. It is not yet clear if this will be a replacement for one of the nests used in the past or will be an additional one.

In the past I have seen active eagle nests in only two locations in the past. One of them is very large, but seems to be getting a bit precarious. The other is quite small and prior to last year’s nesting season seemed to have partially collapsed. Eagles were successful in the large nest this past season with at least one eaglet, but I don’t know for sure of there was an eaglet in the smaller nest.

In case you are curious, the new nesting site is almost equidistant from the two existing sites. It is a long way from any of the trails from which I can take photos and I suspect it will be tough to monitor when the leaves return to the trees in the spring.

eagle nest

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was concentrating so intently on photographing the large eagle nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge last Wednesday that I almost missed the Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that was sitting in the nest. This nest is really deep and during nesting season it is hard to tell if one or more of the eagles are inside of it. The nesting season ended quite some time ago, so I definitely did not expect to see the nest occupied at this time of the year.

The second shot is the one that I was intending to capture. I liked the way that the red leaves were creeping up the side of the trees holding the nest and that was what I was I was photographing. If you look really carefully, you can just see a bit of the yellow beak of the eagle stick out from behind the leftmost tree, but I did not notice it at the time I took the shot.

After I had taken a few shots, I continued on the trail a half dozen steps, seeking to photograph the nest from a different angle. It was only then that I spotted a bit of bright white that turned out to be the eagle’s head. The eagle was hidden really well, but appeared have positioned itself so as to be able to keep an eye on what was happening around it.

I captured a series of images, but the eagle’s head was blocked by the nest and/or the leaves in most of them. Fortunately, the eagle was moving its head from side to side and eventually I managed to capture a shot in which we can see the eagle’s eye pretty clearly.

Quite often in my wildlife photography, I detect the subject only because of its movement, but in this case, the subject was stationary and it was the difference in color of the eagle’s head that allowed me to spot it. As you can probably guess, my eyes are moving constantly when I am out with my camera, searching high and low, near and far, and left to right for potential subjects to photograph.

eagle nest

eagle nest

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Earlier this month I did a posting called  Looking out of the nest that featured a young Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) sitting up in a large nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and wondered when it would be able to fly. Last Friday I returned to the refuge and was delighted to see the eaglet flapping its wings and testing them out—I think it is almost ready to fly..

The eaglet repeatedly extended its wings, but seemed a bit uncoordinated, like a gawky teenager who has experienced a growth spurt. Several times it was able to rise up into the air, but looked uncertain about what to do next. The photos below show some of the action, which lasted only for a few minutes. The eaglet then disappeared into the deep nest, possibly to rest after its exertion.

I watched for a while longer and eventually the eaglet reappeared, but it simply sat up, looking out of the nest. A fellow photographer told me that he spotted the eaglet the following day perched in the tree that you can see in the right side of the image. I suspect, though, that the eaglet will need some quite a bit more practice before it will be capable of venturing out on its own and, of course, it will have to learn how to fish.

I will probably make a trip to the refuge this week to check on the eaglet. So many of the nearby trees are covered with leaves that I may have trouble spotting the eagle, particularly because its dark, and mottled plumage help it to blend in well with the foliage. Adult Bald Eagles tend to stick out a bit more because of the bright white feathers on their heads.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

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There was a lot of activity on Tuesday at the large Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I still cannot determine if any eaglets have hatched, but several times I observed an eagle fly into the nest or fly out of it. The nest is so deep that an eagle is often hidden from view when sitting on an egg—the only way to know for sure that an eagle is present is when one of them arrives or departs.

The eagle in the first photo was arriving and had spread its wings to slow down its speed and forward momentum. In the second photo, an eagle that was in nest had popped its head up and was looking towards a nearby tree where its mate was perched. After the eagle had reassured itself that everything was ready, the two eagles executed a changing of the guard ceremony—the eagle in the nest flew away and the perched eagle took its place. I captured the third image just as the eagle was taking off from its perch to take its turn watching over the nest.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

bald eagle

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I had already spotted a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) sitting on a small nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge (see the final photo in my recent posting Out on a limb). However, until Wednesday  I had been unable to determine if the eagles had started to sit on eggs in the much larger and prominent nesting sight. That nest is so large and deep that a nesting eagle is hidden from view most of the time.

We had unusually warm weather on Wednesday, so I felt compelled to leave my house with my camera and towards my favorite site for wildlife photography. As I walked past my normal viewing site for the nest, I wasn’t surprised that I could not see an eagle in it.  As I continued to walk down the trail, however, I continued to keep my eye on the nest as I continued to walk down the trail. My view was partially blocked by trees, but looking through the trees, I suddenly spotted a small white head sticking out of the nest.

I don’t know if the warmer weather prompted the eagle to sit up higher in the nest than during cold weather, when the eagle would tend to hunker down to keep the eggs warm. Whatever the case, I welcomed this confirmation that the eagles were in the nest. The first image shows that the eagle was quite alert and keeping and eye on things. The second image helps to give you all a sense of the massive size of this nest.

As I write this posting, my heart is breaking as I continue to watch horrific events unfolding in Ukraine. I would simply ask that you pray for the brave Ukrainian people who are fighting and, in many cases, dying to defend themselves and their country.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

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As we near the end of the month of February, we are moving into nesting season for the Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that I regularly observe at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Some other wildlife photographers have photographed one of the eagle pairs mating, but when I visited the refuge last Wednesday, there was no such activity. The best images that I was able to capture were of a solitary bald eagle perched on the outermost tip of a branch overlooking the trail on which I was walking—as the first photo shows, the eagle was quite aware of my presence.

Later that same day, I spotted a bald eagle that appears to be sitting on one of the two nests that monitor. One of the nests is so large and high up in the trees that it is almost impossible to tell when an eagle is sitting on the nest. The other nest, which is the one shown in the final photo, is much smaller and a sitting eagle is quite visible. There are barriers blocking the road to keep eagles from being disturbed, because a trail runs right under the nesting tree, so I am able to capture images only from a distance.

I will be checking in on the nests as time passes and with a little luck will be able to share some images of any eaglets that I manage to spot.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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As many of you know, I have been keeping an eye on a pair of Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nests at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, waiting for the eagles to begin sitting on the nests. I featured one of the nests, an enormous one high in a tree, several times during January, but have not yet posted any shots of the smaller nest this year until now.

The most direct roads leading to this smaller nest are blocked off at this time of the year, because the nesting tree is located near the intersection of several major trails, including one on which cars are normally permitted to drive. However, I am able to take a circuitous route to reach one of the barriers that provides a distant view of the nest from which I can take some photos.

Several weeks ago I was delighted to photograph both members of an eagle couple perched together on a limb of the tree with the small nest that has been used in each of the past three years (and maybe even longer than that). As you can see in the first photo, one of the eagles is quite a bit larger than the other—generally the female is the larger one.

When I first started watching the nest that day, only the smaller eagle to the left was perched on the limb. As I pulled back on my zoom lens to be able to show the nest in the lower righthand corner of the photo, the second eagle flew in to perch next to her mate, and I captured that moment in the second photo.

The two eagles stayed together for a short while side-by-side, when suddenly the larger eagle took off. The final shot shows the eagle extending her wings and taking off from the perch, leaving the smaller eagle to keep watch over the nesting site.

I have been back several times to the site since this encounter, but have not seen the eagles there again. I am optimistic that they will soon be sitting on some eggs. In this smaller nest, the eagle is partially visible when she is sitting on eggs, whereas the other nest is so big and deep that a nesting eagle is hidden from view.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) left their big nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge unattended last Wednesday and several Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) decided to check it out. I don’t know if the eagles were eating fish in the nest in the past or if the vultures were merely curious.

Later in the day I passed the same nest and both of the eagles were perched near the nest, including the one shown in the second image below. That shot gives you a good sense of how big that nest really is. The eagles have been using it for many years and each year they seem to add on to it. It is so deep now, that it is almost impossible to tell if an eagle is sitting on eggs, but I will be checking periodically for other signs.

Turkey Vultures

eeeagle nest

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It is almost nesting season for Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Recently when I have seen eagles, they have mostly been in pairs. When I spotted the Bald Eagle in the first photo last Monday, it was calling out loudly to its mate, I believe, as it perched atop a raised platform at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge on which ospreys sometimes build a nest. An actual nesting site that has been used in recent years is located in a nearby sycamore tree.

A much larger nest is located in another part of the refuge, as shown in the second photo. Two eagles—presumably a mating pair—were hanging around close to that nest, though I have not yet seen them occupy it. The final photo is a close-up shot of the eagle that was perched right above the nest.

I will be checking the nesting sites periodically for signs of further activity. The large nest is set back from the trail a good ways, so you cannot approach it and the trail remains open. The smaller nest in the sycamore tree is adjacent to a trail that is now closed to keep the eagles from being disturbed. I am able to observe that nest from the barrier that blocks the trail and, if I am lucky, I will be able to monitor the nest and capture a few distant shots as I have done in the past.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagles

Bald Eagle

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As some of you know, I have been monitoring two Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nests this spring at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. This past month I have devoted most of my photography time to dragonflies, so yesterday I grabbed my long lens and headed off to the refuge, hoping to see some baby eagles. One of the nests is huge and has high walls, so it is hard to know what, if anything, is going on inside it.

I waited and waited and finally the head of an eaglet popped up over the edge of the nest. As I reviewed the first photo, I noticed that there is another eaglet on the other side of the tree trunk, just a little lower. (You may need to click on the image to spot the second eaglet.) Both of the baby birds were facing the tree trunk and I soon learned why.

It turns out that one of there was an adult eagle behind the tree trunk. In the second image, it looks like the adult eagle, whose only visible part was its beak, was giving a bite of food to one eaglet while its sibling looked out from the other side of the tree trunk and did not seem very happy about the situation.

In the final shot, you get a better look at the adult eagle and a partial view of one of the eaglets. I now know for sure that there are at least two eaglets in that nest—some years there have been three eaglets. As the eaglets get older, I hope they will be more active and curious and that will allow me to get some better shots of them.

eaglet

eaglet

bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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For the last six weeks or so, I have been monitoring two Bald Eagle couples (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge as they have repaired and renovated two different nests. On Saturday morning I made my way to one of them and was delighted to see an eagle sitting low in the nest. I cannot be completely certain, but I think that the eagle is sitting on one or more eggs. If true, the eaglets should hatch in about 35 days or so.

This relatively small nest was damaged last summer when it looks like one of the supporting branches broke off and half of the nest fell to the ground. I observed some of the reconstructions efforts and documented it in an early February posting called Rebuilding the nest. It looks to me like the nest has grown considerably in size since that time.

This nest is located in a sycamore tree just off one of the major trails at the wildlife refuge. Each year the authorities block off all of the nearby roads to allow the eagles to nest in peace. The final photo shows the tree in which the nest is located and the current barrier across the trail from which I took the first photo. A telephoto lens tends to compress distances, so it is hard to judge exactly how far away the tree is from the barrier—I estimate that it is about a hundred yards (91 meters).

I will continue to keep an eye on this nest and hopefully will manage to get a glimpse of some eaglets in the upcoming months. Last year I believe that there was only a single eaglet (check out my May 2020 posting entitled One little eaglet), although in past years there were often two eaglets (check out this April 2018 posting called Baby bald eagles for a look at two adorable little eaglets).

Bald Eagle nest

Bald Eagle nest

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Timing is a critical skill in taking wildlife photographs (and in telling the lame jokes I so enjoy), and I was thrilled to capture this image last Friday as a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was lifting off from its nest high in a tree at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I kept my wits about me and was able to track the eagle and get a few shots as it flew parallel to me  before turning and flying away.

If you remember yesterday’s posting with the singing eagle, you can’t help but notice the contrast in the sky colors. On Monday of last week, we had brilliant blue skies, which have been rare this winter, but when I took these photos a few days later, we had reverted to the gloomy, gray skies that are more typical.

Without the glare, I didn’t have to worry about blowing out the details of the eagle’s bright white head and tail, which was a definitely plus, but my camera and lens combination tends to work best when I have better light. Nonetheless, it is always a joy to successfully capture images of birds in flight, especially bald eagles.

I am particularly happy with the eagle’s wing positions in the final photo, though I dud have to crop it in an unusual way because it was near the bottom of the frame in the original shot—if the eagle had extended the wings, they would surely have been cut off in my shot.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was hunkered down in its large nest last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge but still managed to keep an eye on me through a peephole between the branches. (You may need to enlarge the first image to see the eagle, in what has been described by one of my friends as a “Where’s Waldo?” photo.) Earlier I had seen both of the eagles fly into the nest and they promptly disappeared from sight—one left a short time later.

As I watched and waited, I realized that I would have a tough time timing any shots of the eagle leaving the nest. When a bird is perched, I look carefully for indications that the bird is preparing to depart, hoping to be able to capture a decisive moment. The second shot below was the best that I could manage when I reacted to the appearance of a wing tip over the edge of the nest.

I have no way of judging the dimensions of the interior of the nest, but it looks to be really big and really deep, as you can see in the final photo. In the past, it has been hard to spot eaglets in this nest until they are old enough to climb around a little and pop their heads over the edge of the nest. I hope to see some little ones in this nest later this season.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle nest

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Last Thursday I enjoyed watching a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) couple working on rebuilding their nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. One member of the couple remained in the nest while the other one went off in search of sticks to add to the nest. Together they worked to arrange the new sticks and slowly seem to be raising the height of the walls of the nest. If you click on the images, you can get a closer look at the eagles and their building materials.

For those of you who have been following my posts on the two eagle nests at my favorite wildlife refuge, this is the “small” one, the one that was damaged last summer when a branch broke off. It is a bit of a race to see if the nest will be in good enough shape when the eagles are ready for nesting, but I am really hopeful that it will be. I will be keeping an eye on the nest and will continue to provide updates.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I noted in a posting last week, I am currently keeping an eye on two bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nests at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Eagle couples have actively used both nests in each of the years that I have been visited this refuge. In that earlier posting, I provided a look at one of them, a really large nest.

Today I am featuring the second one, which has always been quite small. During this summer, I noticed that it had gotten even smaller. I can’t tell for sure what happened, but it looks like one of the supporting branches may have broken off and a significant portion of the nest was dumped on the ground. I was afraid that the eagles would abandon the site and rebuild at another location.

I was thrilled therefore when I spotted the couple last week engaged in some reconstruction efforts that I documented in the posting Carry a big stick with a shot of an eagle carrying a large branch to this small nest. The first two photos, which I took last Monday, show the current size of the nest. For comparison purposes I included the final photo which is from January 2019—it looks to me like the nest was considerably larger two years ago.

The refuge has blocked the trails near this nest to keep the eagles from being disturbed, but I am able to get photos like these from the barrier that blocks the road. I’ll continue to watch the nest as often as I can and I am hopeful that the eagle couple will be able to restore it well enough to use for nesting this year.

 

bald eagle

bald eagle

bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am now keeping an eye on two Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nests at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. As far as I can tell, the eagles are not yet sitting on eggs and are still in the process of repairing and preparing the nests. Despite this increased activity, catching the eagles at the nest is very much a hit-or-miss proposition.

One of the nests is a very large one that I have featured multiple times in this blog, most recently in a posting on 18 January entitled Eagles in the sunlight. This past Monday, both members of the eagle couple were working on the nest and I was thrilled to capture some shots of them. I generally had to wait for them to take a break in order to get a clear shot—when their heads are buried in the branches making adjustments, their bodies more or less disappear from view.

The nest is big enough that the two eagles can both work on it at the same time. Female eagles tend to be larger than males and I think the eagle in the first image is the female. She seemed to be doing most of the work on the nest, while the other eagle, pictured in the second and third shots, periodically flew away and seemed to come back with additional small branches.

I was trying to capture a shot of both of them in a single frame when I snapped the final photo. The eagle on the left started to take off and I shifted my camera slightly and almost cut the second eagle out of the frame. I thought about cropping the second eagle out, but decided I liked the wider view of the nest provided by leaving the eagle in place. As always, I encourage you to click on the images to get a closer look at the eagles and their enormous nest.

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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One of the Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nests at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge seems to have suffered some damage during the off-season. It looks like one of the supporting branches broke off and more than half of the nest was dumped to the ground. The nest was relatively small in previous years and until yesterday I saw no signs that the eagles were planning to try to repair it and use it again this year.

The refuge has blocked off portions of the nearby roads to allow the eagles to nest in peace, but with my long telephoto zoom lens I am able to get a glimpse of the action. As I was standing at the barrier yesterday, I was thrilled when I saw one eagle fly into the nest and a few moments later, the second one arrived as well. After a short time together, one of the eagles flew off while the other eagle assumed what looked like a position of waiting.

A few minutes later the first eagle returned carrying a pretty large branch. I have seen ospreys carrying branches like this, but I had never seen an eagle do so. These three shots document part of the eagle’s journey with the branch. The final shot shows the eagle carefully approaching the nest where its mate was waiting. Amazingly, the eagle was able to weave its way through the branches of the tree and place its prize on the nest that is clearly still under construction.

I shot some images that show the current state of the nest that I will share in a future post. I also plan to do a post on the status of the other eagle nest at the refuge, the one that is huge by comparison with this one. Stay tuned for further developments as the eagles prepare for nesting season.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

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Last week we were blessed with a couple of days with sunshine and blue skies, a nice change to our endless diet of dreary winter days. The weather lifted my spirits and multiple sights of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) last Wednesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge raised them even higher.

The Bald Eagle in the first image was initially facing away from me as I moved toward it. Somehow, though, it sensed my presence and turned its head to glare down at me. As you may be able to tell from the angle of the shot, I was almost directly below the eagle.

In the second image, the eagle was farther away. If you look closely at the eagle’s talons, you will note that the eagle is holding onto the branch with a single foot. It looked to me like the eagle had tucked the other foot up under its fluffed-up feathers, presumably for warmth.

The final shot shows the large nest at the wildlife refuge. I have yet to see the eagle couple working on the nest, but both members were in the vicinity of the nest on this day, including the one int he photo.

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It won’t be long before it is nesting season at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge for Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). I know of two nests that have been used the past few years. One of them is close to a trail that the refuge authorities block off when nesting is taking place. The other, pictured below, is high in a tree that is visible in the distance from a trail but is inaccessible to human traffic.

You can’t help but notice how large this nest is, especially when you compare it with the size of the bald eagle that I managed to photograph early one morning last week. Every year the eagles add on to the nest and now it is so deep that I am unable to see the eagles when they are sitting in the nest.

I will be keeping an eye on the eagle nest in the upcoming months and will be sure to give a progress report if/when I see additional activity.

eagle nest

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There are at least two Bald Eagle nests (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the location where I take many of my wildlife photos. One of them is located adjacent to a popular trail and most years the authorities close nearby trails during eagle nesting season. There has been a lot of construction at the refuge over the past few months and, although I saw an eagle couple at that nesting site on several occasions, it looks like they may not have occupied that nest this year (and the trails have not been closed).

The second nest, pictured below, is in a more remote location—it is visible through the trees from one of the trails, but is surrounded by dense vegetation, so the eagles are more insulated from human activity. On a recent visit to the refuge, I was pleased to spot both members of an eagle couple in the nest. I am pretty sure that the eagle on the left is the male, because male eagles tend to be considerably smaller than their female counterparts.

With a bit of luck I hope to be able to spot some eaglets here in the upcoming months, although I noted last year that it is a real challenge to do so, because the wall of this large nest appear to be quite high and effectively hide the eagles from view.

Bald Eagle

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From a distance, I could see that a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was in the nest on Monday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. As I have noted in the past, the tree with the nest is right beside one of the trails at the refuge. Normally I approach the nest from the same direction and an eagle can see me from a pretty good distance away because the trail runs through an open field.

This time, however, I was walking from the opposite direction and the tree trunk blocked my view of the eagle as I got closer, which meant that it probably kept the eagle from spotting me. The first shot shows my initial look at the eagle once it came into view as I approached from the right. At this point, I think the eagle was unaware of my presence and I tried to remain as stealthy as I could.

I moved forward a bit more and continued to observe the eagle, completely in awe its beauty and majesty. My peaceful reverie was broken when I head the sounds of people approaching. Perhaps they were speaking at a normal conversational level, but it sure sounded loud to me. In the second shot, the eagle was looking in the direction of the noise. Had it heard the others? In the final shot, the eagle seemed to be looking right at me, having finally become aware of the fact that I was there.

The eagle did not take off immediately, but a short while later it flew off to a nearby osprey nesting platform. Later in the day I observed two eagles on the platform, which seems to be a favorite perching spot for the eagle couple.

It won’t be long before the refuge closes the trail from which I was taking the photos. I am wishing the best for the eagle couple as they move into nesting season. Last year there was one eaglet in this nest, I believe, and the year before there were two.

Bald Eagle

bald eagle

bald eagle

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Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at one of the nesting sites at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge looked to be renovating their nest this past week. In the first shot, the female eagle was taking a short break from arranging the sticks around the edge of the nest. The second shot gives you a wider view of the nesting site and also shows the male eagle perched higher in the tree and to the right.

The male eagle arrived at the tree first and a short time later the female flew in and began to work. The male seems to be keeping watch over his mate and surveilling the overall situation.

I was planning to watch the eagles for an extended period of time, but unfortunately a loud group of visitors approached from the opposite direction and spooked the two eagles. In the upcoming weeks, I expect the refuge authorities to close off some of the adjacent trails to allow the eagles to nest in peace. I was therefore really happy to have had the chance to see the bald eagles during these preliminary stages of renovating their nest.

Bald Eagle nest

Bald Eagle nest

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Many of you are aware that I have been keeping track of a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. When the eagle couple occupied the nest earlier this spring, the authorities set up barriers to keep the eagles from being disturbed, because the tree with the nest is close to the intersection of several trails.

I have checked the nest several times in the past month and there has always been an eagle sitting in the middle of the nest. As I looked through my telephoto zoom lens this past Friday from one of the barriers, I could see that an adult eagle was sitting at one side of the nest, leading me to believe there might be babies. I waited and eventually was rewarded with a view of one eaglet.

Last year there were two eaglets born at this nest. Perhaps there is a second eaglet this year too, but at a minimum I am thrilled to know that there is at least one new eaglet birth to celebrate.

Bald Eagle

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It’s nesting time for eagles at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. On Monday I spotted this Bald Eagle couple in a nest that I know has been used the for at least the last two years. The tree is adjacent to one of the main trails at the refuge and is pretty prominent. Shortly after my sighting, I encountered one of the law enforcement officers who was putting up barriers to block access on the roads near the nesting site to protect them from human interference.

Each year they put up the barriers in slightly different locations. I am hoping that this year’s barriers are about the same distance from the nest as last year’s. At that distance, I was able to photograph the eagles from a distance that let me get photos about the same as the first image below and also monitor the eagles. I was fortunately last year to be able to even get some distant shots of the two eaglets after they were born. Perhaps I will be equally lucky this year.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

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Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) appear really fierce with their intense eyes and powerful talons and beaks, but they also have their tender moments, as you can see in this image that I captured on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Officials have blocked off an area of the wildlife refuge for the security and privacy of the nesting eagles, but I was able to get this shot by shooting over the barrier with a long telephoto zoom lens and by cropping the image.

The female eagle, which I believe is the larger one on the right, seems to be sitting much higher than she was several weeks ago, making me wonder if one or more egg might have already hatched. A few moments before I captured this image, she was repeatedly lowering her head down into the nest and then raising it. Perhaps she was just eating, but I like to imagine that she was feeding an eaglet.

From what I have read, eagles mate for life and actually are quite affectionate with each other. Additionally, they share the responsibilities for sitting on the eggs and for raising the young. I am somewhat more familiar with some duck species, where the female is left with responsibility for caring for the ducklings, and it really causes me to admire the devotion and commitment of the eagles to each other.

So what about you and the ones that you love? Do you get weary? Maybe we too should follow the words of the classic Otis Redding song and “Try a Little Tenderness.”

Bald Eagles

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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On a recent early morning trip to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I spotted a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) perched on a broken-off branch below what appears to be an active eagle nest. Perhaps this was the male keeping watch or possibly the female taking a break. The nest is so high up and deep that it is difficult to determine if another eagle was sitting on the nest.

Despite my best efforts at stealth, the eagle detected my presence as I tried to move further down the trail to get a better angle, but I was able to get these shots as the eagle was preparing to take off. In the middle shot, I did a less severe crop than on the other two in order to give you an idea of how closely the eagle was perched to the nest—the sticks in the upper portion of the image are the bottom of the nest.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This eagle’s nest is nestled back in the trees at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, somewhat obstructed though still visible from the trail. When I first sighted the nest this past Saturday morning, it looked like it was empty.  I kept my eyes glued to the nest as I slowly walked past it and suddenly I spotted a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) sitting on the nest, partially hidden in the shadow of the trees. This is the second nest at the refuge that I have spotted so far this winter that appears to be in use, though I suspect that there may be more. When leaves return to the trees, I fear that the nest will be completely hidden from view, which will give the eagles a little more privacy from paparazzi like me.

bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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From a distance I was able to catch a glimpse of a nesting Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I love the way that this shot shows the awesome structure of the tree in which the eagles built their nest.

As I mentioned in an earlier posting, officials at the wildlife refuge have blocked of roads near this nest to keep the eagles from being  unnecessarily disturbed by human activity. I captured this image from behind the barriers. As nesting activity continues, I suspect that the barriers will be pushed even further back, so I decided to get this shot while I was still able to do so.

Once I was aware of the presence of the eagle in the nest I attempted to be as stealthy as I could in approaching the barrier, which is a little tough to do when you are standing in the middle of a wide trail with fields on both sides. I stayed low and left after I had taken a few shots.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Recently at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the only views I have gotten of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) have been of them flying away from me. Yesterday I got lucky and caught a glimpse through the foliage of one sitting in a distant tree in what appears to be a nest. Earlier this year, several roads in the refuge were closed after two eaglets were born. I don’t know if this was the nesting site, but suspect it might have been.

I was a long way away, but had a small visual tunnel through the trees that gave me a mostly unobstructed view of the eagle. I tried to move slowly, although I figured that the eagle was unaware of my presence. Apparently I underestimated the sharpness of the eagle’s vision, because it took off from the nest not long after I began shooting.

As I have said in the past, however, any day that I am able to see and photograph a Bald Eagle is a wonderful day.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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