Eagles in Late Winter

I’ve photographed three Bald Eagles hunting and scavenging since the third of March. A friend saw a mature eagle flying with a stick in its talons on March 4 – nest building (or nest enhancement). It’s becoming more and more difficult to remember the Bald Eagle as an endangered species. In 1976 just one nesting pair, a nonproductive pair, was reported for the entire state of New York; today there are several hundred nesting pairs in the state.

Eagles are opportunistic predators and will hunt, steal and scavenge for food. In this region, the carcasses of road-killed deer in farm fields are a dietary staple in winter.

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When eagles discover a rich food source like this, they can gorge, storing much of the ingested meat (up to two pounds) in their crop.

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I wasn’t able to determine the relationship between these birds, other than the dominance of one over the other at the feeding site. The adult plumage indicates sexual maturity and an age of at least five years (longevity in the wild averages about 20 years). The average weight of an eagle is about 10 pounds; females tend to be about 25% larger than males, and one bird does appear to be larger than the other.They could be a mated pair, doing what eagles do – squabbling over food.

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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12 thoughts on “Eagles in Late Winter

    • Thanks Lisa. I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time, facilitated by a phone call from a friend. Hoping to get some flight shots one of these days.

  1. Once again Nick you have done a “knock your socks off ” kind of photo opportunity. I’m very glad I’m on your list ! thank you for your wonderful work !

    • Appreciate the nice comments Saunda. This was a great experience, one that I don’t expect to duplicate anytime soon…..which seems to be a pattern common to all of my memorable photo shoots.

  2. We seem to be having more and more sightings of bald eagles here, too. I’ve truly enjoyed watching over a nesting pair these last three seasons after I first discovered the nest. I’m sort of hoping we get to see one more batch of eaglets before we move south.

    • I hope you see the nesting eagles again – good luck. I’m not thinking too much about nesting eagles but will take the shot if I stumble into something. We (DEC) published an eagle management plan last year that prohibits gawkers from being wiyhin 330 feet of an eagle nest. Thats beyond my effective camera range.

      • I’m not sure of the exact distance, but I was lucky to spot this nest that’s across a pretty good sized river and along a fairly well traveled road. The eagles seemed to not mind my stops by the side of the road and my camera range did need quite a bit of cropping. There are times when I feel conflicted about disturbing the birds when I’m eager to catch a look or a shot, but I hope that I don’t disturb them too badly. It seems that there’s a growing interest in seeing and photographing birds, but that can be a double edged sword. Increasing our love for the creatures can be a positive in doing what we can to protect them as long as we don’t intrude or stress them.

  3. Heartening to read your text and the recovery of such an iconic species. Road kill plays an interesting role as a food source. Marvellous pics, love the extended wing shots. Nick, National Geographic shots.

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