Posts Tagged ‘Bald Eagle’

Photo Essay: Eagles Galore

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Thursday, December 6th, 2012
Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle with talon shadows © Josh Haas

Bald Eagle with Talon Shadows:

This image is very important to me as it was the first really nice Bald Eagle image I added to my repertoire.  Most of my Bald Eagle imagery is from the Mississippi River in the dead of winter.  It’s a cold way to get photographs but if you are after images of specific species, you have to go where big numbers are.  Once you find a good group, then comes the tricky part.  Exposing properly for adult Bald Eagles.  Shooting in full manual is a great way to expose properly but for those a bit weary of full manual, aperture priority can be used but it’s important to monitor your histograms ensuring your exposure is correct as the day goes on.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon Rebel XT, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f5.6

Shutter Speed- 1/500th

ISO- 100

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle with fish © Josh Haas

Bald Eagle with Fish:

A classic Bald Eagle image after the hunt.  If you ever find yourself at a spot with lots of Bald Eagles, it’s only a matter of time before you start to experience them fighting over a recently caught fish.  One of the things I like about this image is how intent this bird looks on bugging out of the area.  The position of the wings and the general look of this Raptor in the photo has always spoke to me.  Natural predation at its finest!

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark II, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f8

Shutter Speed- 1/2500th

ISO- 400

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle with Reflection © Josh Haas

Bald Eagle with Reflection:

I was extremely happy the moment I reviewed this image on the back of my camera.  I found a spot away from the crowd one winter where there was an open hole in the ice.  A small group of Bald Eagles had found the spot before me and were nailing fish in open water.  Setting up low at the river’s edge, I was able to position myself so the leafless trees were in the background making the water appear very dark.  Because the hole of open water was small, the water appeared calm which created the nice reflection.  It just took a while for the bird to hit the spot.  That’s the key in bird photography, spending time.  Most all of my Bald Eagle images are the result of full days in the cold, waiting and shooting.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon Rebel XT, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f5.6

Shutter Speed- 1/800th

ISO- 400

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle Extreme Close-up © Josh Haas

Bald Eagle Extreme Close-up:

This is a photograph that my dad absolutely loves.  As you can see, I typically am shooting with my 500mm for Bald Eagles but there are times when they come very very close.  This particular Bald Eagle image is the result of a successful hunt where shortly after, the bird turned and flew directly in-front of us at a very close distance.  I pulled my 500mm up, hand-held and fired away.  Having recently tweaked my exposure, I was able to get a sharp, properly exposed image that fills the frame.  To this day, my dad sees this image and still can’t believe I hand-held the giant lens and obtained such a nice image.  Practice and preparation is huge but a little luck helps too!

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark III, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f5.6

Shutter Speed- 1/2500th

ISO- 400

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle in Warm Evening Light © Josh Haas

Bald Eagle in Warm Evening Light:

Any good photographer knows, lighting is everything.  This image is at the end of the day when the sun was low.  My rule of thumb for Bald Eagles in flight is to strive for shutter speeds of 1/1200th or faster.  This is plenty of speed to capture what’s needed.  As the light fades, it’s important to increase your ISO to keep your shutter speeds high enough to capture the speed.  This was one of the last hunts of the evening and I was set up and ready for it.  The result was a great image with warm light from the sun and the reflecting water lighting the bird up.  It sure was cold, but the image made it all worthwhile.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark III, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f5.6

Shutter Speed- 1/1600th

ISO- 400

 

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle Perched in the Pines © Josh Haas

Bald Eagle Perched in the Pines:

Ahhh, another image full of memories.  This photograph was from atop a tour boat in search of whales and glaciers in Alaska.  Because the weather was horrible and the seas were extreme, we were stuck in the safety of the bay which resulted in no whales and even less glaciers.  This was quite disappointing and while I didn’t plan on Bald Eagle images in horribly dull lighting, the stars aligned as we approached the rocky shoreline.  I ended up in the perfect position.  It’s not too often you find yourself looking eye to eye with a perched Bald Eagle.  While the lighting was dull, this was perfect for easily exposing this beautiful bird amongst the green Pines.

Camera Body & Lens- Canon 1D Mark II, 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4x extender

Aperture- f5.6

Shutter Speed- 1/320th

ISO- 640

To see more of Josh’s work, get tips on photography, or to sign up for workshops and trips please visit www.glancesatnature.com.

Hawk ID, Part 5: Eagles

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Tuesday, October 9th, 2012
Hawk ID Eagles

Bald Eagle © Josh Haas

Hawk ID, Part 5: Eagles by Josh Haas

The Eagles, regardless of species are the ones many come out to the watch for.  Even for those that have seen thousands of Bald and Golden Eagles, they never get old.  Their large bodies and powerful flight bring awe and excitement to people that always bring them back for more.  For some, huge kettles of Broadwings were what hooked them on Hawkwatching, for everyone else, there are Eagles.

The Bald Eagle is a massive raptor that in flight, shows incredible steadiness with deliberate wing beats.  As the bird flaps, its wings almost appear to flex as the body remains still as if hung from the wings.  The wing beat is also quite slow and on the upstroke can stretch higher.  In comparison, while the Golden Eagle has a similar slow wing beat, it is much shallower.  Comparing the two in flight is where the focus is important.  The first thing to look for is if the bird shows a dihedral or is flat-winged in a glide.  Balds are flat-winged and Goldens normally have a slight dihedral (although costal Goldens can appear flat-winged).  I’ve also noticed when flapping, Goldens tend to stop beating on an up stroke whereas Balds will usually stop their wing beats on a down stroke.  Probably one of the most important keys to identifying the difference between these two birds is the length ratio between the head and the tail.  In Balds, the head appears just massive.  So massive, in fact, the head will appear at least half or more longer than the tail.  In Goldens, the head appears small making the tail looks roughly three times the length of the head.  Using this technique in flight can almost always yield the correct species, even at far distances.

Hawk ID Eagles

Golden Eagle © Josh Haas

Every Hawkwatch site that officially tallies numbers will age-ID Buteos and Eagles.  You’ve probably noticed I haven’t mentioned the characteristics that determine age.  This series is meant to be a beginner series and let’s not try to learn everything in one sitting!  This series is all about flight ID and training yourself to get away from field marks.  For that reason, let’s continue with flight characteristics and part 6 will be all about Northern Harriers and Osprey!

Hawk ID, Part 4: Buteos by Josh Haas

Hawk ID, Part 3: Accipiters

Hawk ID, Part 2: Falcons

Hawk ID, Part 1: ID Techniques 101

Celebrating Independence in Style

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Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Bald Eagle by Josh Haas

There is nothing more majestic than a Bald Eagle soaring above its river territory.  I think it’s safe to say that every American is in awe of this majestic Raptor and no matter the age, the background or ideological preference, most will agree this mighty bird not only represents our country well, but represents America in style.

Bald Eagle by Josh Haas

So why has the Bald Eagle been our country’s totem for all this time?  The sheer power, beauty and courage the Bald Eagle represents have been clear descriptions of our Nation’s history since inception.  The survival of the Bald Eagle from the 60’s forward also shows the struggle and triumph of not only a bird, but a country willing to take a step back and re-evaluate the importance of harsh chemicals and our use of the land.  Many of our readers can relate very strongly to the words, “Houston, the Eagle has landed.”  These historical words were spoken by Neil Armstrong in 1969 shortly after landing on the moon.  Many traits of this dark bird sporting a white head and tail clearly represent our great Nation but the joy and privilege each and every one of us have as we live our daily lives is represented by freedom.   Freedom allows our friends and family to join together for something as simple as a cookout.  Freedom allows our children to enjoy indoor things, outdoor things, and choose different paths in life.  Freedom is the core behind our Nation.  As Bald Eagles soar and hunt in the wild, they represent the freedom all of us are lucky enough to have.

Bald Eagle by Josh Haas

This Fourth of July, I hope all of us can take a moment and think about the daily freedoms we have and the great sacrifice our service men and women give for us.  I for one and extremely thankful for what each and every one of them does for us.  Also be on the lookout near rivers and lakes for the mighty Bald Eagle.  Enjoy the sighting if you’re lucky enough to find one and think about what that bird represents to you.  Here’s to wishing everyone a safe and happy Independence Day.

Bald Eagle by Josh Haas

Bringing Nature Indoors

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Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
Trees Foliage Nature

Fall in Michigan by Josh Haas

We all have amazing stories creating by simply being outside. For some it’s the family trips each summer, for others it’s seeing their first Pileated Woodpecker on a bird hike. Regardless of our different connections, having reminders every day of these connections can often relieve daily stresses and bring us back to times that have helped shape our existence.

One way to bring these memories inside is to hang imagery on walls either at home or the office that offer constant reminders of the connections that really make us happy. Most of our readers probably know that for me, the connections are “bird” heavy and many of the images in my offices are my bird photographs. It’s not just pictures of birds; however, the stories behind the images are what come to mind every day. In Michigan, a popular family destination is the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The numbers of folks that come in our Michigan Art Show booths each year consistently connect with our Sleeping Bear imagery and those that take pieces home are sure to be reminded of those family trips for years to come.

Bald Eagle Trees

Bald Eagle by Josh Haas

Think back to some of the hikes and trips you’ve been on and look back at some of the photography you’ve taken on hikes and trips. Maybe it’s time to get some of those images printed and put on the walls to remind you of your journeys taken throughout the years. One tip when printing and framing is to first think about the frame and/or mat you might put with the image. Always make sure to size your prints right to fit in a specific frame. Matting and framing is like anything else, the sky is the limit. It can get quite expensive but a trip to your local frame shop may be worthwhile. Many stores also offer standard frames that include mats. Many times, these kits are user friendly so don’t be afraid to try them. The goal is to get some work on the walls you see every day to continue connecting with nature, even indoors.

Mysterious Migration

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Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Cooper's Hawk, adult © Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO

Raptors usually start to return to Manitoba in February and continue to arrive in waves right through April. I was in Ecuador for much of this period; so, when I returned I couldn’t wait to get out and enjoy the show. When a clear, sunny day with south winds arrived, I dropped everything and headed for the St. Adolphe Bridge. At this site south of Winnipeg I can often see as many as a thousand or more hawks and eagles on a good day. This day was almost a complete bust. Six Bald Eagles, a Cooper’s Hawk, and a couple of Sharpies and Kestrels. Big whoop!

This, I discovered, was not unusual. The entire 2012 raptor migration season has been a bust in Manitoba. Far fewer Red-tailed Hawks, for instance, have passed over the St. Adolphe Bridge than ever before. At Windygates, in the Pembina River valley south of Morden and near the American border, the situation is more carefully monitored. Rigorous daily tallies from February through April indicate that 9,000 fewer raptors passed the observation points this year than in 2011.

Red-tailed Hawk adult, Western, dark morph © Greg Lasley/VIREO

These diminished figures have led to all sorts of speculation.

An unusually mild winter, with almost no snow accumulation, and an early onset of spring probably minimized the thermals that raptors rely on. Perhaps higher winds blew much of the straw and chaff off farm fields, resulting in fewer places for rodents to hide and a dearth of the usual stopover, refueling points for the raptors. Drought in the southern US, especially Texas, could also have affected migration.

American Kestrel adult female © Richard Crossley/VIREO

Whatever the causes, our raptors may have been hit by a triple whammy — displaced on their wintering grounds, contending with troublesome weather systems on their routes north, and spread out because of the lack of snow cover here, they may have altered their migratory routes or patterns or styles. They may be here and gone, having used non-traditional ways of getting into the province and farther north.

Or they may not be here yet. Or their numbers may have been dramatically reduced.

Only time will tell. What’s happened to the raptors in your area?

Bald Eagle

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Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Bald Eagle by Lisa Densmore

Location: Saranac River, New York and Bighorn River, Montana

Two summers ago, while paddling a canoe down the Saranac River in the Adirondack Park, I glided under a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in a tall oak tree by the riverbank. I was so excited! I grabbed my camera and began snapping pictures. It was my first chance to photograph this iconic symbol of the United States. A Bald Eagle was a rare sighting in the Adirondacks when I was a kid in the 1960’s, and though population levels are increasing, it is still a treat to see one there.

My partner, a Montanan, in the back of the canoe was less enthusiastic. He had just hooked a five-pound bass, and I was shirking my paddling duties in favor of what he termed a flying rat. In his home state, Bald Eagles were common scavengers. Now that I live in Montana too, I understand his side of the story. Bald Eagles are more common here, though they are more apt to eat a rodent than to act like one. In fact, these bold-looking symbols of freedom are really regal scavengers. They commonly survey riverbanks and open fields for their next meal, which might be fresh fish or a field mouse they’ve nabbed in their impressive talons, but they’re just as likely to fend off the Ravens from a road-kill carcass. If I were a Raven, I wouldn’t mess with a Bald Eagle. Its hooked yellow beak is specially designed for ripping into flesh.

Bald Eagle adult and nestlings © John Hunter/VIREO

Last week, while fly-fishing on the Bighorn River, I spied two Bald Eagles in a cottonwood tree. The pair was content to watch me cast a line for over two hours. Fishless, I eventually hiked back to my car, but I wondered whether they would have swooped down for a closer look if I had pulled a feisty trout from the chilly water.

Adolescent Eagle ID

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Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Golden Eagle by Jack Ballard

Here in Montana, eagle sightings seem much more frequent in winter than in the summer. It’s not that eagles are more abundant. They’re just easier to see. Their big, brown bodies show up more readily in leafless trees. Carrion along the roadways brings them within eyeshot of traveling motorists. On a recent, two-hour drive through the south-central part of the state, I spotted over a dozen eagles.

Both Bald Eagles (haliaeetus leucocephalus) and Golden Eagles (aquila chrysaetos) grace the big blue skies of my home state. Adult birds of the two species are easily distinguished from each other. But like human teenagers seeking to blend with their peers, adolescent eagles are copycats. For the first year of life, immature Bald and Golden Eagles can be maddeningly difficult to differentiate.

Bald Eagle immature (2nd year) © Arthur Morris/VIREO

But a seasoned ornithologist’s trick helps. Rather than focusing on a single characteristic to separate the species, evaluate several diagnostic features. Immature Golden Eagles, though sporting mottled brown and white plumage like their bald cousins, display a more sharply defined white band on the tail. Their legs are also feathered to their feet, while Bald Eagles have bare lower legs. Golden Eagles have a smaller, slimmer head. Juvenile Golden Eagles often sport the golden mantle of their kind on the head and neck.

Recently, I had the opportunity to snap a few quick photos of an immature eagle as it winged away from a road. Although the experience was fleeting, by focusing on a variety of features, I determined the teenager to be a Golden Eagle, a fortunate creature that never has to worry about becoming bald.