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Posts Tagged ‘bald eagle nest’

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

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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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

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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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

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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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

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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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

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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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

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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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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