Friday, February 1, 2008

My Best Eagle Picture

Last Friday I had the day off so I decided to head over to Carpenter Nature Center to watch them do some banding in the morning. The morning was sunny and relatively warm so I decided to run over to Prescott, first, and check and see if I could spot the Barrow's goldeneye or harlequin duck that have been hanging around there this winter. I did not see either, but I was fortunate to have about 10 bald eagles hunting down on the river. I sat in my truck for about 2 hours and took pictures of the eagles.

Minnesota has the most pairs of nesting eagles in the lower 48 states.

Do you know which state has the second most pairs of eagles in the lower 48 states?

The size of the eagle varies by what part of the country you are in. Eagles from the south are smaller then the eagles that we see in Minnesota while those from Alaska are much larger.

Like most raptors female eagles are larger then the males. This is known as reverse sexual dimorphism. Females in Minnesota are around 10 to 12 pounds while males are around 8 to 10.

In 2007 the bald eagle was taken off of the endangered species list. They have made a great comeback from the days when DDT decimated their population. However they still face several challenges, namely habitat loss and lead poisoning.

I was very happy with this picture. In my opinion it is the best eagle picture that I have ever taken.

After a while the clouds started rolling in which made it more difficult to get clear sharp flight shots. That did not stop me from trying though.

It is amazing how some good old sunlight really makes the details stand out.
I am guessing that this guy will blame that miss on the darkening skies too.
In the winter the eagles gather around the open water. They need open water to drink and to find fish, which is their main food source. Eagles are opportunistic eaters. They need to conserve energy so they will try and eat whatever takes the least amount of energy to catch. This sometimes gets them into trouble as it did several weeks ago in Kodiak, Alaska. In Kodiak 50 eagles descended on a dump truck hauling fish guts from a seafood factory. The truck was uncovered and the eagles ended up pushing each other into the slimy, oily mess. Twenty eagles were drowned or crushed in this tragedy. The remaining 30 were saved and taken to the Bird TLC in Anchorage. This is old news that has been covered by several bloggers, such as Ocean over at Island Rambles, however I am sure that the Bird TLC could still use some more support. Even though this story is no longer in the news they are still doing great work. Taking in 30 eagles at one time is a huge undertaking so if you can help them out please do.


John Mikes said...

The eagle recovery is just amazing. When I came to Minnesota in 1973 an eagle sighting was a major event. They were so rare, that I could never have imagined being able to do what I did a couple of weeks ago -- hop in my car, drive down to Red Wing's Colville Park, and count 30 birds sitting in the trees near the power plant cooling lagoon. And see another 15-20 on the other side of the river.

Anonymous said...

Your eagle photographs are absolutely beautiful. We don't have too many bald eagles on our small lake, but even one or two are greatly appreciated. To see them soaring overhead and hear them calling is a precious gift from Nature herself.

Nora said...

Of course I was thrilled with this post (I am an eagle nut) and the photos are amazing and in flight is so hard to do. I did not know all the info you listed about your area and how many eagles you have. I really really liked this post and then I really liked it more when you mentioned!! thanks.... (cheers ocean)

Anonymous said...

IMPORTANT CORRECTION: The incident involving the deaths of eagles did NOT happen in Homer, Alaska. It happened in the town of Kodiak, on Kodiak Island.

Jim Ryan said...

These are great pics, Jeff. Great narrative you added as well.

That first (top) one and the one about to pluck are my favorites!

I finally got myself a digital camera and scope adapter so I will be trying my hand at capturing good images of birds and other stuff I'm interested in.

You have been a major inspiration to me in re-awakening the photographer inside me. Thanks!
Jim R

ivars krafts said...

Great shots, Jeff! Keep up the good work. I posted a link to your site on my blog,
so that, hopefully, as many as possible can enjoy your photos.

birdchick said...

Love the shot of the bald eagle coming down over the water with its landing gear out!

Ecobirder said...

John, I agree it is great to see how well that the bald eagle has recovered. Even ten years ago when I started taking pictures of them my wife and I rarely saw them except down by the Mississippi in southern Minnesota. This year I saw one on the golf course up at Como Park and just a few days ago I saw one just a few miles from my house perched over a road.

April, thanks for the kind words. Eagles are always a wonder to watch.

Ocean, I knew that with your love of eagles that you would really like this post. I like to inform my readers about other blogs that I enjoy. Plus I think that it is important that us bird bloggers support each other. So any time anyone on one of the other blogs that I read has some good info or pics I try and link them up.

Thanks anonymous I made that correction.

Jim thanks. That is certainly a great compliment coming from an accomplished birder like you. I will talk with you in a couple of weeks up at the festival if you have the time.

Ivars, thanks for the compliments and the link. I really enjoy your site and visit frequently.

Sharon, thanks for the compliments. I agree with you, the one coming in for the fish is definitely my favorite. However I did get a lot of e-mail responses about the first picture also.

Jason said...

Incredible eagle photos. The one with the talons unfurled is just astounding.

Ecobirder said...

Thanks Jason!

Vicky said...

OMG!! I have never seen such awesome eagle pics, and the trumpertor swans in Monticello. I am fortunate enough to live only 10 min. away from an eagle's nest, where I can watch them. I enjoy visiting the National Eagle Center.
I have your site in my Favs.

Vicky said...

OMG!!! You are one of the most awesome photographers and with some of the BEST shots of eagles I have ever seen. Where I live, I can drive 10 min to an eagle's nest and sit, watch, and listen. I love looking at your site. Vicky