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Posts Tagged ‘Bald Eagle’

As I was wandering the trails early last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I was fortunate to spot this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) perched in a tree, almost hidden amongst the leaves. I would like to think that my stealthiness permitted me to get close to the eagle, but suspect instead that the eagle was comfortable in its perch and simply did not view me as a threat.

The eagle moved its head from side to side a bit and glanced down at me occasionally, but stayed in place as I took some shots. The trail took me past the tree in which the eagle was perched and after I had passed underneath the eagle, I glanced over my shoulder and was pleasantly surprised to see the eagle was still there. I love it when I am able to capture my images without disturbing my wildlife subjects, though most of the time they are so skittish that they move away as soon as they detect my presence.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This majestic Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was almost hidden in the foliage when I spotted it on Wednesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. If the eagle’s head had not been so bright white in color, I might not have noticed it at all. At this time of the year, when I often can hear the birds, but cannot see them, it is always a challenge for me to photograph birds.

To mark the change of the seasons, I have switched over to walking around with my Tamron 150-600mm telephoto zoom lens affixed to my camera, a recognition that I am as likely to encounter birds as insects. I am still, however, carrying my 180mm macro lens in my backpack, in case I run into the right kind of shooting situation with an insects or other small creatures.

Initially the eagle had its head almost completely buried in the leaves, as you can see in the first photo. I gradually noticed, though, that the eagle was moving its head around a bit and I was able to capture some images that show a bit more of the eagle’s face. I changed my body position slightly as I watched and waited, but tried to minimize my movements for fear of spooking the eagle.

It has been quite a while since I last featured Bald Eagles in a posting, and I am excited at the prospect of seeing them more regularly. If so, you are sure to see the results here, because, as I have said on multiple occasions, any day in which I see a Bald Eagle is a good day and getting good shots is real bonus.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It has been several months since I last checked on the Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, so I made a visit there on Monday to check on the eaglets. The young eagles that I found still hanging around the nest are definitely no longer babies, though most people would not yet recognize them as Bald Eagles—it takes almost five years for them to acquire their distinctive white heads and tails.

I am pretty sure that these two eaglets are now capable of flight, though they remained in place on the branches overlooking the nest the entire time that I observed them. For the first time in quite some time I had my 150-600mm lens on my camera that allowed me to zoom in on each of the eaglets and then zoom back for the final shot to give you an idea of how close they were to the nest.

The bedraggled plumage makes it look like it was really windy, but in fact there was no wind when I captured the images. The eaglets clearly have a lot of work to do on their grooming before they are ready to take their place as one of our national symbols.

I did not see any adult Bald Eagles until much later in the day when I spotted one in another part of the wildlife refuge. Although the eaglets appear to be more or less full grown in terms of size, I question the degree to which they are self-sufficient and suspect that they are still dependent on their parents to provide them with food. As their flying skills improve, the eagles will almost certainly venture out farther and farther and it will become correspondingly more difficult for me to spot them.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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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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Perhaps these Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) were singing or maybe they were trying to scare off incoming osprey, but most importantly they were doing it together as a couple on a shared perch when I spotted them on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge at a moment when the skies were completely overcast.

Bald Eagles

 

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Both members of a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) couple were active on Monday in and around the big nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge—neither of them appeared to be sitting continuously in the nest.  Perhaps there are eaglets already, though the nest is so deep I could not see any little heads.

I captured this image as one of the eagles was making its final approach to land on the nest. I really like the position of the wings that help the eagle slow its forward progress and the way that the light coming from the side was illuminating the tail feathers.

I will be continuing to monitor this nest and the other one at the wildlife refuge for signs of baby eagles and hopefully will have the chance to capture some shots of them soon.

bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It was early in the morning when I spotted this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) on Tuesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Utterly fascinated, I watched the eagle methodically preening, moving from one area of its body to another, adjusting the feathers and removing some small wispy ones. When you are a national symbol, I guess you have to try to look majestic at all times.

This particular eagle was pretty relaxed and I managed to walk almost underneath the overhanging branch without disturbing it. If you look carefully at the final photo, you can tell that I was shooting almost straight up in order to get the shot. Remarkably the eagle remained in place when I continued on my way down the trail. I would like to be able to claim that I was really stealthy in my movements, but I think it was more likely that the eagle was simply willing to tolerate my presence, of which he was undoubtedly aware.

Bald Eagle

 

Bald Eagle

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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I really enjoy posting photos here on my blog because I have the freedom to post multiple images and spend as much time and text as I want talking about them—most other forms of social media have implicit or explicit limits on the content. I post a subset of my blog content on my personal Facebook page and in several Facebook groups.

Many of these Facebook groups are very specialized and are full of experts. I actually prefer to post to groups that are aimed more towards generalists who have a broad interest in nature and wildlife. One of my favorites is called “Nature Lovers of Virginia” and I was thrilled when one of my recent photos of a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge was selected as the banner photo for the group for the month of March. The enclosed photo shows the banner photo as it looks in Facebook.

I take photos mostly for my own enjoyment, but do love to share them with others. It is a nice plus to get a little recognition from time to time.

banner image

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Do you remember what it was like to be so totally in love that you wanted to be physically close to the other person every single moment of every single hour? That was the first thought that came to mind when I spotted these two Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) close together in a tree last Tuesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I tend to think of eagles as being fierce, powerful, and independent, but this image suggests that they also have a tender, vulnerable side as well.

Look into the eyes of the eagle on the right, which I believe is the male. Doesn’t he look like he is totally smitten, wide-eyed and in love? This stage of total infatuation often happens when you are young, though it can strike you at any time in your life. It brings to mind a playground chant of my youth that was designed to embarrass the persons named in the song. Do you remember the song?

Imagine these two eagles were named Chris and Mike. It would go like this:

Chris and Mike
Sitting in a tree
K-I-S-S-I-N-G!
First comes love
Then comes marriage
Then comes baby
In a baby carriage!

Can you imagine an eagle with a baby carriage? Let your creative imagination run wild. If I had skills as a cartoonist, it would be fun to make a drawing with this eagle couple pushing a baby carriage. Alas, I have no such skills, but would encourage any of you who possess those skills to take on the challenge.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The early morning sun was still low on the horizon last Tuesday when I spotted this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The light at this time of the day is so warm, soft, and beautiful that I desperately wanted to get a shot of the eagle.

There was, however, one big problem—the eagle was looking away from me and the view of the back of its head was not very attractive. So I watched and waited and watched some more. Finally, the eagle made a quick glance over its shoulder, smiled, and seemed to ask if I was now satisfied. I was.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I rounded a curve in a trail on Tuesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I saw a flash of white at ground level further down the trail. My eyes immediately registered the fact that it was a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), but my mind seemed to have trouble processing the presence of an eagle in this incongruous location. What was it doing there?

The second and third images suggest that I inadvertently interrupted the eagle as it was consuming its breakfast. I cannot identify the eagle’s prey, but it does not look like a fish to me. If you click on the images you can get a closer look at the remains of the prey and maybe you can tell what it is/was. Perhaps it was one of the many ducks that I could see on the waters of the bay that is visible through the vegetation.

As you can tell from the final photo, the eagle took off as soon as it sensed my presence, taking with it the remains of his meal. I never get tired of visiting this wildlife refuge as often as I can. There is an old adage that insanity can be defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, so some might consider me to be a little crazy. The truth, however, is that each wildlife encounter is a unique combination of environmental factors and subject behavior, so each time there are new possibilities and opportunities to capture views of nature’s endless diversity.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am not sure why the bottom feathers of this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) were in such disarray when I spotted it this past Tuesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Clearly something had ruffled its feathers, perhaps some mating activity. Spring is in the air and the eagles should soon be sitting on eggs in their nests.

The pandemic has turned our lives upside down this past year—there is something hopeful and reassuring about observing the inexorable movement in the seasonal cycles of nature. New life will soon be springing up all around us in the Northern Hemisphere with the arrival of spring. I can hardly contain my excitement.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Adult Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) are easily identifiable because of their white heads, but it actually takes four years for them to grow “bald.” In earlier stages of development their beaks and eyes are dark and their feathers are mottled. Experienced birders can tell the precise age of a juvenile by bald eagle simply by its coloration.

This juvenile eagle that I was excited to photograph on Tuesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge appears to be about two to three years old. The beak has turned yellow excepted for the tip and its eyes, which are dark brown when they are really young, look like they are starting to get almost as light as those of an adult. If you want to learn more about the developmental stages of a bald eagle, check out this interesting article by Avian Report on Juvenile and Immature Bald Eagles.

The young eagle was flying above the water, apparently looking for fish, when I captured these images. I tracked it for quite a while, but never did see it pull a fish out of the water. Still, I was happy with my images and definitely enjoyed my time basking in the warmth of a sunny spring-like day as I watched and waited.

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I did not have much time to react yesterday when this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) zoomed past me, flying low over the waters off of Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, so I was thrilled to capture this image. I am not really sure where the eagle was headed, but it looked like he was fiercely focused on getting there quickly.

Photographing birds in flight is rarely easy. If you spot the bird when it is far away, you might have time to check your settings, calmly track the bird as it approaches, and shoot off a burst of shots at the decisive moment. That ideal situation almost never happens in my world. More often than not, the bird seems to come out of nowhere and I frantically raise my camera to my eye and try to find the bird in my viewfinder and focus on it, never knowing for sure if the camera settings will be anywhere near appropriate.

Yesterday, I managed to snap off only three shots of the eagle and only one came out in decent focus. I decided to include the second photo to give you an idea of what I was seeing through the viewfinder—it is slightly edited, but uncropped. I end up cropping most of my images, which sometimes gives the impression that I was closer to the subject than I actually was.

As you can see the eagle was quite large in the frame in this case, which meant that my heart was really racing as I scrambled to get the shot before it was too late. For those of you who might be curious, I captured the image with my Canon 50D and Tamron 150-600mm lens at 500mm with settings of f/8, 1/1250 sec and ISO 400.

In some ways I am just using a point and shoot technique when I photograph birds in flight, but it is much more sophisticated than what most people think when they hear the words “point and shoot.” After thousands and thousands of shots, I have built up reflexes and muscle memory that help me to react quickly and instinctively in situations like this. There are no guarantees of success, of course, but I have reached a point in my development as a photographer that I feel like I have a fighting chance of getting a decent shot in some pretty challenging shooting situations.

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Sometimes my potential subjects are immediately visible and there are no obstructions between the us. In other cases, I have to look more deeply through the trees or vegetation to spot a distant subject.

Spotting the subject, though, is only the start. Oftentimes the bigger challenge is to find a visual tunnel that gives the clearest possible view of the subject. I frequently find myself leaning, kneeling, bending, and standing on my tiptoes as I consider my options.

When circumstances permit, I am able to capture images like this one of a perched Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that I saw a couple of weeks ago at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It is not as dynamic as some of my shots of the eagles building their nests, but I really like the mood of this little portrait and I am happy with the way that I was able to capture the ruffled feathers of this majestic bird.

Bald Eagle

© 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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Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) never seem happy and frequently look fierce or even angry. OK, I know that I am sometimes guilty of anthropomorphism, attributing human traits, emotions, or intentions to my wildlife subjects. How can you tell if an eagle is happy when their massive inflexible beaks make them physically incapable of a smile?

We often consider music to be a signal of happiness and songbirds sound happy. What about eagles—can they sing? I usually think of eagles as “screaming” rather than “singing,” but this image that I captured last week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge makes me wonder if eagles can express their joy or their love in their songs.

What do you think? Does this eagle look happy to you?

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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It is hard to get a good exposure of the feathers on the head of a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). When the lighting is too strong or direct, the bright white head risks being overexposed and the details often disappear. Even under good circumstances, the head often looks like the slicked-down hair of a 1950s greaser. I was thrilled last week when I managed to capture fluffy head feathers in this shot of a pensive eagle in the early morning sunshine at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Bald Eagle

© 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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It is hard to predict how a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) will take off. Will it fly up or down of maybe sidewards? Will it push off its perch or flap its mighty wings and ascend upwards? Will it wait until I am ready or wait and wait until I am not?

This past Thursday I was fortunate to capture an image of this bald eagle as it was leaving its perch at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The eagle was high in a tree and quite a distance away, but I was able to steady my camera on my monopod and capture a decisive moment. Be sure to check out all of the cool details on the eagle’s body, like the rows of chest feathers and the very sharp-looking talons.

 

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 love watching Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) flying so effortlessly in the sky, propelled by their massive wings and the currents of air. Quite often they soar so high that they are beyond the range of my camera, but this week I was able to capture some images of them at a somewhat lower altitude while I was visiting Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

I would love to be able to fly so freely above all of my earthbound cares and can’t help but think of some of the lyrics of “Fly Like an Eagle” by the Steve Miller Band.

“I want to fly like an eagle
To the sea
Fly like an eagle
Let my spirit carry me
I want to fly like an eagle
‘Til I’m free.”

The other thought that inevitably comes to mind when I see eagles in flight is a promise from Isaiah 40, one of my favorite verses in the Bible, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

During this pandemic time, we all need that kind of strength and endurance and hope as we continue our daily struggles, looking forward to a time when we too will soar again.

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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This Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was staring down at me and appeared to be irritated when I spotted it on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Was it truly sad, disappointed, or angry at my presence, or was I merely mirror-imaging the range of emotions that I have experienced this past week as I observed the chaos and confusion in my own country?

If you would like to get a closer look at the eagle’s expression, double-click on the image. What do you read in that expression?

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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How do you choose the images that you will include in a posting? Generally I will post photographs within a day or two of taking them. Sometimes, though, I get backlogged, either because I have gone out frequently or because my “catch” for a particular day was particularly good. If I were better organized and more objective in reviewing my photos, I might be better at making sure that I always post my best images. However, I suffer from a phenomenon known as “recency bias.”

What is recency bias? Recency bias is a type of cognitive bias in which you give greater weight during evaluation to things that are recent than to those in the past, even in the recent past. How does that work in practice for me? Yesterday I posted a photo of a bald eagle couple that I had spotted this past Monday, the most recent photo that I had taken of a bald eagle. I was excited to share it, because every single eagle sighting is special to me.

When I was trying to figure out what to post today, I realized that I had run out of cool images from my most recent photographic forays. I decided to go back a little in time and looked through my photos from late December. I stumbled across my eagle photos from 28 December, less than two weeks ago. I had taken a whole lot of shots of the eagle in an attempt to get an unobstructed view and had never gotten around to reviewing them all. I meant to do so, but got caught up in newer photos and gradually forgot about this eagle.

I really like this shot of a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that I spotted in a sweetgum tree at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. By almost any standard, it is a much better eagle photo than the one that I posted yesterday and I am glad that I “re-discovered” it. This little experience serves as a good reminder to me that it is important to look back sometimes and not be quite so tunnel-vision focused on getting the next image.

I am chuckling a little as I conclude this posting because I realize that, in essence, I am complaining about having so many images to post that I forget about some of them. Compared to the major challenges that we face in the world today, this definitely qualifies as a “first world problem.”

 

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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We have now reached the dark, gray days of winter. The endless series of cold cloudy days threatens to weaken my creative energy, and subjects to photograph seem harder and harder to find.  What can I do? What should I do?

For me, the key is simply to press on, even when I am not “feeling it” and even when the weather is less than optimal. I have to keep reminding myself of the benefits to my body and my emotional well-being that come from walking around in solitude with my camera. So I put on extra layers and push myself out the door.

As for the photos, I try to be grateful for whatever opportunities come my way. On Monday, for example, these perched Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) were among a small number of birds that I managed to photographed. They were pretty far away, but I was happy to capture some of the details of the eagles’ feathers and the bark on the trees.

I could’t help but notice that the only bright colors in the image were the eagles’ beaks and talons, so I played around and converted the image to black and white. With the color removed, I can focus better on the shapes and textures of the elements in the image, but perhaps it draws too much attention away from the eagles that are, after all, the primary subjects of the photo.

Bald Eagles

bald eagles

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The last time that I posted a photo of this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) couple, they were sitting apart on the platform that is sometimes used by ospreys during nesting season at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. When I spotted them last week, they had moved much closer together and were perched on the small surface at the top of the post. Is love in the air?

The tree in which these eagles generally nest is not very far away. Part of their rather small nest there seems to have disappeared over the last year, perhaps as a result of a fallen branch, and it will be interesting to see if they will rebuild the nest at the same location.

As I was observing the eagles, I realized that I had never provided you with an overall view of this preferred platform, so I zoomed back and captured the second image below. As you can readily see, the platform is quite tall and I believe that the eagles like the commanding view from their perch, a view that includes the tree in which their nest is located.

Bald Eagles

 

Bald Eagles

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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