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Posts Tagged ‘Haliaeetus leucocephalus’

No matter how many times it happens, it is always exciting to see a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Last week I spotted this one at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and I was happy when it presented me with a chance to take this profile shot.

I had watched as the eagle flew to this tree and stealthily approached it. I was able to get relatively close, because the eagle was looking away from me and could not see me moving closer. However, the butt-first pose that it presented to me is not the most flattering for any creature, so I waited and hoped that the eagle would change its position. After what seemed like an eternity, the eagle moved its head to the side and I was finally able to get a few shots in which the eye was visible. Patience paid off one more time.


Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday morning I was delighted to spot this immature Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It takes approximately five years for a Bald Eagle to gets its classic white head and I estimate this one to be about three years old, judging from its coloration.

Initially I spotted the eagle when it flew into the midst of a group of trees. I moved around only a little, fearful of spooking the bird, and captured the second shot below when the eagle leaned forward a little and exposed its head. Moving as stealthily as I could, I maneuvered to a position from which I had a somewhat clearer shot and captured the third shot below. I noted that the eagle was crouching, which is often a prelude to taking off, but the eagle remained in place.

Eventually I reached a little opening and was able to capture the first image, which I think is the best of the group. The tree in which the eagle is perched is, I believe, a sycamore. Unlike the sweet gum trees with spiky seed balls that have appeared in many of my perched eagle shots, the seed balls of this tree appear to be much smoother.

If you are interested in the developmental stages of a Bald Eagle and how its appearance changes over time, I recommend that you check out a posting from onthewingphotography.com entitled “Bald Eagles – Age Progression from one to five years old” that features wonderful photographs of each stage.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© 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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The wind was blowing strongly last Friday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, giving this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) a bad case of “bed head.” I think that the wind may also have distracted the eagle a little, which allowed me to move closer to the eagle that I might otherwise have been able to do.

bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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How do Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) show affection? I am not sure exactly what these two eagles were doing when I spotted them on Tuesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Were they singing to each other? Maybe they doing some version of eagle French kissing? Whatever the case, the eagles definitely seemed to be enjoying spending the time close together, beak-to-beak, showing love in their own ways.

Happy Valentine’s Day as you show love in your own way. Although this holiday traditionally is focused on couples, I think that singles like me should also celebrate love today—I love flowers and am planning to get some later today. It is more than ok to love yourself, so go ahead and treat yourself today—you are worth it.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I didn’t realize that this Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was eating its breakfast when I inadvertently spooked it last Thursday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. There was no way the eagle was going to leave the fish behind, however, so it decided to take its fish “to go” when it took to the air.

When I first looked at this image, I was not sure if I liked it—it is pretty obvious that I was shooting through some branches and parts of the eagle are blurred out by them. When I examined the shot more closely, though, the positioning of the fish in the eagle’s mouth and the awesome details of the talons and tail made me decide that it was worth posting.

bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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Why do eagles scream? Most of the times when I hear a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) screaming, the eagle is by itself and appears to be signaling its location to its mate. This past Monday, though, I spotted a Bald Eagle couple perched together on an osprey nesting site not far from their nesting location. The eagles seem to enjoy hanging out at this location that gives them a clear view of the tree in which the nest is located.

I am posting this little sequence of photos out of order, because the first image best tells a story, although it is not completely clear what that story is. The female eagle, the larger of the two, is on the lower level and seems to be screaming at her mate who is perched higher on the pole. A moment earlier they were both on the lower level and both eagles appeared to be calm, as you can see in the second image. Then the male hopped to the higher level and the female began to scream.

In the final shot, the female has turned away and the male is now screaming. Was he responding to his mate or was he screaming at something else? I guess you can connect the dots of this story in any way that you like.

As I was doing a little research on screaming eagles I came across a fascinating National Public Radio (NPR) article entitled “Bald Eagle: A Mighty Symbol, With A Not-So-Mighty Voice.” The article posits that most people have an incorrect idea of what an eagle scream sounds like and blames Hollywood. According to bird expert Connie Stanger, “Unfortunately for the bald eagle, it has like a little cackling type of a laugh that’s not really very impressive for the bird” and in most movies the sound of the eagle is actually dubbed by a Red-tailed Hawk. (I imagine a hawk in a sound booth with headphones dubbing over the eagle’s calls.)

If you click on the link above and then click the button on the website called “57 Second Listen,” you can hear a short clip of the NPR broadcast that includes both the call of the eagle and that of the Red-tailed Hawk. As for the question in the posting’s title, I personally like to think that it was a conversation, but acknowledge the distinct possibility that they were individually responding to a commonly-perceived threat. I think that my interpretation allows for more creative possibilities as I try to imagine the domestic conversations of a Bald Eagle couple. 🙂

bald eagles

bald eagles

bald eagles

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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