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Posts Tagged ‘juvenile Bald Eagle’

It was really cool on Tuesday to be able to capture these images of a young Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) looking out from the large eagle nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The growing eaglet appeared to be quite alert and was sitting up quite high near the edge of the nest. I love how you can see the mottled plumage, dark eyes, and multi-colored beak of this eaglet in these photos.

The nest is high in the trees and there is now a lot of vegetation growing, so it was quite a challenge to get a clear angle of view. I am pretty happy with the results that I was able to achieve. The eaglet looks to be big enough to be flying, but I am not sure if that is the case. One of its parents was perched on some branches just above the nest, so I am pretty sure that it is not yet ready to go out on its own—eagles normally take about 12 weeks to fledge and then may hang around with their parents for another month or two.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was excited to spot this juvenile Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) sitting up in the big nest at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge on Monday. I assume that this eaglet was born this spring, based on its coloration and markings.

Earlier this spring I had noted eagle activity around this nest and thought that the nesting process had already begun long ago. However, this nest is very large and so high up that it is impossible to tell when the eagles began to sit on the egg or eggs. I checked my blog postings from the past and saw that I posted a shot of eaglets at this same nest on 19 May last year (see the posting Eagle nest update in May), so things seem to be following the same approximate schedule.

I saw only a single eaglet this time, but will continue to monitor the nest for more eaglet activity, including indications that there is more than one eaglet. Earlier on the same day I spotted an adult eagle perched in a tulip tree—you can actually see some of the “tulips”— adjacent to the nest and suspect that this is one of the parents keeping an eye on the eaglet(s). I included a shot below of the presumed proud parent as a final photo.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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I was excited to spot quite a few Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It was especially cool because the eagles that I observed were at different stages of development. Bald Eagles are mostly brown in color when they are born and it takes almost five years for them to mature and develop the white feathers on their head that we associate with Bald Eagles.

The eagle on the left in both of the photos is a really young one. I initially thought it might be a fledging that was born this year, but it seems too early for one to have already reached this stage of development. Perhaps this eagle is a year old, judging from its coloration and markings.

I thought that the other eagle was the same one in both photos, but the markings in the first photo show some dark feather on the head and some mottled coloration on the body that seems to me missing on the adult bald eagle in the second photo. I would guess that the “other” eagle in the first photo is about four years old.

 

Bald Eagles

Bald Eagles

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A juvenile Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) tried to steal a fish from an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) on Thursday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and chased it across the sky. It was quite an aerial dogfight. In the end, I think that the osprey dropped the fish and both birds ended up “empty-handed.”

Ospreys migrate away from my area for the winter and I was delighted to see that they had returned. I spotted at least a half-dozen or more ospreys and they were both active and vocal. Ospreys have high-pitched, distinctive voices that the Cornell Lab of Ornithology described in these words, ” Their calls can be given as a slow succession of chirps during flight or as an alarm call—or strung together into a series that rises in intensity and then falls away, similar to the sound of a whistling kettle taken rapidly off a stove.” Here is a link to a Cornell Lab webpage where you can listen to recordings of various osprey calls.

These three photos give you a general sense of the chase. In the first shot, you can definitely see the “prize,” the fish that the osprey had caught. In the second shot, the eagle has closed the distance separating it from the osprey. In the third shot, the osprey is doing its best to maneuver away from the eagle, but the eagle was able to match the osprey turn by turn. All of this took place over the water and eventually the two birds flew out of range.

eagle osprey chase

eagle osprey chase

eagle osprey chase

© 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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On Monday it was cool and windy and I didn’t expect to see many birds at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I was pleasantly surprised to spot several Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) flying about. The wind seemed to slow them down a little and gave me a slightly better chance of capturing images of them in flight.

My favorite subject was this juvenile eagle. Sometimes juveniles can look somewhat bedraggled with their multi-colored feathers, but I thought that this one looked quite handsome, especially when the light hit it from a good angle and illuminated its body. One unexpected benefit was that it was easier to get a proper exposure with the juvenile because it does not have the extreme contrasts of the dark body and white head of the adults. In many of my shots of adult eagles, the body ends up underexposed and/or the head ends up overexposed.

juvenile bald eagle

juvenile bald eagle

juvenile bald eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It has been quite a while since I last got a shot of a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), so I was really happy when I saw this young one in the distance earlier this week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Experienced birders can tell the age of a Bald Eagle by its coloration. All I know for sure that it is less that five years old, the age at which the head feathers turn white, though I have the impression that it is pretty young.

As is often the case, the eagle spotted me right afterwards and took to the air, but I managed to get a shot as the eagle flew off. When it comes to eagles, it is always a challenge to get a shot, because the eagle’s eyesight is so much better than mine and its reaction time so much quicker.  I therefore have to react almost instantly when I see one and then hope that luck is on my side.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Can you spot perched birds at a distance or do you need them to move in order for you to see them? Generally I need some movement for me to pick them out and it has been sometimes frustrating in the past not to be able to see birds that are almost right in front of me.

Yesterday morning, however, I managed to spot a Juvenile Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that was perched in a distant tree. Actually, I didn’t know initially that it was a Bald Eagle and I wasn’t even sure that it was a bird. I was scanning the trees on the other side of a small pond with my telephoto zoom lens extended to 600mm when I noticed a dark shape among the branches. I took a quick shot and zoomed in on the screen on my camera and was thrilled to see that it was some kind of raptor. This shot gives you an idea of what I was seeing.

Bald Eagle

It was early morning and there were a lot of clouds, but periodically the sun would break through and illuminate the scene. I made a few adjustments to my camera and, of course, that is when the eagle took off. The eagle initially flew in the direction it is facing and my shots became a hopeless mess of branches that were in focus and an eagle that was not in focus.

Suddenly the eagle began to change directions and gradually started to head back in my direction, flying a bit closer to me. I was finally able to get some in-flight shots that are pretty much in focus, although they did require some cropping.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

As the eagle flew away, I was able to get this final shot. The eagle’s face is mostly hidden, but there is something that I really like about the wing position and details and the way that some of the clouds are visible in the sky.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It was cool and cloudy yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park, but my spirits were brightened considerably when I saw three Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) soaring briefly over the park. It looked to be two adults and one juvenile, perhaps a family on a Saturday outing.

The eagles were pretty far away and I had my telephoto zoom lens extended as far as it could go as I attempted to track the flying eagles. Occasionally two of them or even all three would come into the frame for a split second, but then they would be soaring off into different parts of the sky.

I’m including an assortment of shots to give you a sense of the experience. I consider any day that I spot a Bald Eagle and get recognizable shots of it to be a wonderful day.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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In the early morning hours above Huntley Meadows Park, all kinds of birds are flying about, like this immature Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) that I spotted yesterday.

A year ago, I probably would have guessed that this was a hawk, but my identification skills have improved somewhat and I can tell this is an eagle. Given that it takes about five years for a Bald Eagle to mature, I’d guess that this one is about two to three years old, though I defer to more expert birdwatchers on this point.

As you can probably tell, the eagle was moving from right to left as I tracked it over the treetops. I was shooting over a small pond at a pretty good distance in early morning light that was not yet bright, so my ISO was cranked up a bit. I especially like the shots that include the trees. Although I will try to photograph an eagle every time I see one, I think it is a nice extra when I manage to include part of the surroundings in the shot.

Bald EagleBald EagleBald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Can you react faster than an eagle can? Yesterday, I was getting ready to step out of the brush that surrounds one of the ponds at my local marsh, when I spotted a large dark shape in a dead tree that overlooks the water. I suspected that it might be a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), since I had seen eagles perched on this tree a couple of times in the past.

As I stepped forward and was starting to bring my camera to my eye, a juvenile Bald Eagle took off. The eagle flew upwards so quickly that I had trouble finding it and keeping it in my viewfinder, as you can see in my first shot. I got a few more shots as I tracked the eagle’s flight, but in most of them, the eagle’s head is obscured by its outstretched wings. Just before the eagle flew behind the trees in the distance, I got a reasonably clear shot, the second image below.

What did I learn? If an eagle spots me at the same time that I spot him, his reaction times are going to be quicker than mine. Someone I’m going to have to figure out a way to be more stealthy and more ready the next time I find myself in a situation like this. That will be my challenge this autumn as I start to take more shots of birds as the insect population gradually decreases.

eagle1_blog_sepeagle2_blog_sep© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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