Several weeks ago, on one of my regular photographic outings, I noticed an adult female bald eagle perched on her nest. Nothing unusual in that except on each subsequent visit she was in the same position.

I guessed, correctly as it happens, that she had laid eggs. 

Recently I have seen two eaglets replete with their downy grey feathers moving about waiting to be fed. 

It’s a critical time as the chicks are vulnerable. There are incidents I have heard of where young have fallen from their nests.  Even when they are ready to fledge – sometime in June perhaps – they still don’t have the skills necessary to take off and land properly. The adults pay very close attention.

Over the winter both adult eagles reinforced the nest and I have seen them occasionally bring back twigs or grass to ‘renovate’ their home. This image was taken a week ago.

Using a long lens with a teleconverter – which gives me additional reach – I have been taking pictures from the road. However, it is extremely difficult to find a clear shot as there are so many tree branches between the nest and the road.

I have a couple of spots though where I can capture images when the wind cooperates and the branches part for a second giving me the slightest angle of view. It takes a lot of patience and a fair bit of  luck. It’s wonderful to see the interaction between the adults and the young. 

At no time will those eaglets be left alone while they are vulnerable. The adult female will call out when ospreys, turkey vultures or red tailed hawks fly close probably to alert her mate to the threat or possibly to let the intruders know she is there. 

On one recent visit the adult male came back to the nest and then flew up to a nearby tree overlooking the road. I had to retreat (with permission) into a nearby field as I felt I was too close. It’s not the first time these eagles have chosen a roadside tree for observation.

Occasionally they have flown over my head then picked moss or corn stalks to take back to their nest. Last week I watched the male dine on a raccoon carcass nearby then fly into the wind before circling back to see his family. They have to feed themselves as well as the young!

 

It’s apparent they accept the occasional human presence though this would not be a good time, with young in the nest, to push the boundaries. The fact that these eagles come closer of their own volition is enough.

Over the coming months I will pay more visits to see how the family is progressing.

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A big thank you to all who attended my April 17th photo presentation at Idea Exchange:  ‘Coyotes – The Misunderstood Predator’. It was great to look out upon a full room and have such incredible feedback. I have never had applause during the middle of a presentation before!

Thanks also to Pam, Amanda, Chris and the team of Idea Exchange volunteers who organized the event and made sure that those on the waiting list were accommodated. I look forward to further collaborations.

 

6 Comments

  1. Pat Bruce

    Hi Paul:
    First i want to say how much we enjoyed your presentation last Wednesday on “Coyotes-Misunderstood Predator.
    We live on a farm north of Woodstock and we always hear the Coyotes but rarely see them, over the years we have had more problems with raccoons
    but the most of the problem is we are convened they are dropped-off by people in the city that trap them ( bring there problems to the country) they are so much bigger then the ones we see in our 40acre woodlot. In our opinion raccoons are a menace. Our dog hate them …..so you no the rest of that story….but the good part is we take them to area on our property and the Turkey Vultures have a feast and often the Bald Eagle will arrive the Vultures move away till the Eagle has it’s fill.

    1. Paul E Gains

      I am pleased you enjoyed the presentation, Pat. I had a good time with this audience and the discussion afterwards was great. Be careful about handling raccoons. Some of the wildlife rehabbers refused to care for them this year due to the prevalence of distemper. I also learned they carry a roundworm parasite which is lethal to humans. The eggs are indestructible. Not a pretty picture.

  2. Barclay Frost

    Great photos as usual. Your patience amazes me. Thanks for all your insights into the interesting life of these awesome birds. My daughter saw one recently while checking out their cottage. Hope this family continues it’s healthy ways sp looking forward to further updates. Wish I lived closer so I could hear your in person presentations.

    Barclay.

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