Posts Tagged ‘Adolescent Bald Eagles


Necedah Wildlife Refuge: Adolescent Bald Eagle



Adolescent Bald Eagle



Eagle Days: Sauk City, Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin


Last weekend, I drove over to my parent’s to visit.  On the way there, the highway travels along the Wisconsin River for a few miles – four or five and to my foreign followers that would be less than ten kilometers.  During that short stretch I counted seven eagles; six adults and one adolescent, from a moving car while I was driving, so I’m certain I missed some.  Sauk City and Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin have their annual Eagle Days this weekend, so I drove there early Friday morning, hoping to see eagles.  I was not disappointed.  I set-up just before sunrise and waited.  With overcast skies the light developed very slowly so for the first hour or so I just watched as they flew in.  Sauk City has a big hydroelectric dam and below it the water remains open through Winter.  The open water attracts many types of birds searching for food, including eagles.  I don’t know how many eagles I saw as I sat their that first hour, but I had over two dozen sightings with the eagles all flying the same direction — toward the dam.


I shot many different eagles, from adults to adolescents like the one above, which is just beginning to get its white feathers.  In years past, I would see a couple eagles, and accept I would just have to be content with shots of the eagles flying through.  Not this year!  I passed on many shots of them flying through and took only shots of eagles as they tried to catch fish.  Even so, I still ended up with nearly six hundred photos of eagles fishing.


Above an adult goes in for a fish.


So if viewing wildlife, in particular eagles, is on your to-do list, you won’t be disappointed this year if you take the time to head over to Eagle Days in Sauk City and Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin this weekend.  There are lots of Eagles this year.


Bald Eagles: Fledglings

I’ve witnessed this pair of Bald Eagles raise three pairs of young over the last three years.  Having learned from past years, I got some photos of their young shortly after they had fledged and before they left. 


They have two nests in this vicinity.  One they abandoned three years ago, and one they built three years ago.  The fledglings have been winging back and forth between the two nests, while the parents watch from a safe distance. 


Their survival training and hunting training will begin now as they leave the nest area.


On this day, though, this fledgling contented itself with gliding between the two nests.


Where it then rejoined its sibling.



A Hiker With a Camera

I have made the statement before that I am not a photographer, I’m a hiker with a camera.  I don’t mean that as an excuse, but as a statement of reality.  I know how to tie my shoes, how to dress and in most cases what to avoid.  I take a camera with because when I’m hiking I see things and I believe it makes for a nicer story to have pictures of those things.  Unfortunately, it means I miss a lot of nice shots.


This shot should have been a no-brainer.  The Bald Eagle perched on this branch is within range of my camera and lens but with it being backlit the picture doesn’t turnout as nice as it should have.  Being annoyed at missing shots like this and the next one, I begin to look for solutions.


Finding solutions to my issues would be next to impossible if there weren’t people with experience who share their knowledge.  The problem is the tricky lighting in these shots made getting the pictures beyond my ability.  I check several blogs and websites daily through my RSS feed, most of which are by photographers.  Yesterday, while reading this article about Darwin Wigget’s use of filters, I discovered potential solutions to my issues:

For more information about Darwin Wigget check out his blog at:


Perched Adolescent Bald Eagle

Often mistaken as hawks because of their mottled coloration and sometimes mistaken as golden eagles because they lack white feathers, this adolescent bald eagle perched above me while I took pictures.  Wild animals often seek an edge by placing the sun at their back when observing as is the case in this photo, leaving me to try and get a picture with the camera pointed toward the sun.  Probably one reason why wildlife photographers prefer taking pictures on overcast days.



Road Kill

Wisconsin has a lot of deer, though the hunters will say there aren’t any because they didn’t get to shoot one this past hunting season.  The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) takes into consideration the number of deer hit by cars, number of deer in a survey area and other things when trying to estimate Wisconsin’s deer population.  The DNR draws heavy criticism from hunters who believe the deer population is being mismanaged.  Hunters generally site the low deer kill this past hunting season as proof that Wisconsin’s deer population is much lower than in previous years.

I’ve been seeing lots of deer this winter.  Last winter I didn’t see any from November through March.  What changed?  The hunters aren’t going to like this one.  My skill at finding deer.  My nephew considers himself an expert hunter.  He filled his freezer this past hunting season with venison.  My parent’s neighbor, who I would consider an expert hunter because he travels all over the United States at his own expense to kill things, got a deer during the very difficult bow hunting season.  His freezer is filled with venison.

Another factor that causes me to doubt the deer population is in decline is the rise in the number of predators.  Predator populations do not increase unless they have something to eat.  Wisconsin’s wolf population is on the rise.  Wolves used to be restricted to the extreme northern part of the state, and an area in Lincoln county where the DNR had transplanted wolves back in the late sixties early seventies.  Their numbers were estimated to be fewer than a hundred back in the eighties with the Lincoln county pack actually being on the decline with fewer than a dozen wolves.  Wisconsin’s wolf population is now believed to be above six hundred, with wolves ranging below the Wisconsin River in southern Wisconsin.  I know because one was shot and killed south of the Wisconsin River last fall.

Another thing to consider in this debate about DNR mismanagement versus hunter ineptitude is, this has been a mild winter.  Wisconsin had little to no snow until after deer hunting season.  Snow makes tracking and finding deer really easy.  Without the snow, knowing where the deer hide can be very difficult.

The Bald Eagle population in Wisconsin has definitely increased.  With thousands of eagles here during summer and many staying during winter, their ability to find food in a harsh wintry place like Wisconsin gives credence to their skill as predators.  Of course the local farmers who place the occasional road kill deer in a field helps. 


You can see the tire tracks from the tractor used to place the deer carcass in this field.  When I first saw this there were about a half a dozen eagles feeding.  By the time I got the car stopped, grabbed my camera, stepped out of the car and got into position to take the shot, all but one of the eagles remained.


This adolescent eagle was the last to fly away.  Obviously, there are a few skills I need to work on.  This bird flew away and joined several other eagles perched in a tree across the field from this deer.


All in all more than a dozen eagles perched in trees around the field where the deer had been placed, giving me the opportunity to take pictures.

October 2019
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