28 thoughts on “Head-on eagle

  1. “The eagle had just missed a fish and was coming off the water when it saw me.”

    Yikes. This makes it sound like poor Mr. Barnard is about to become dinner. Kind of looks that way in the photo, too!

  2. They always look angry. The bird was actually about 20 meters from me, but the 400mm focal length and the extreme crop make it look like it’s in my face. I think those talons are about as big as my hands.

      1. That might actually be the case. I was sitting in my living room watching TV or reading WEIT or something when I saw the bird fly past. I grabbed the camera and went outside on the deck as it circled around and dove for the fish. I had the feeling that it saw me at the critical instant and was distracted.

    1. Stephen, the photo is spectacular. I can’t imagine the exhilaration of the experience.
      It is so wonderful to see eagles making a comeback in other parts of the country. A friend in central Illinois corn farming country is excited to have a nesting pair nearby (there ARE trees in central IL but they are pretty much only along riverways).
      It is so wonderful too because I spent my high school and college years reading about how ranchers out west would kill eagles, and of course, how DDT had also ravaged populations. It’s nice to see how some species can make comebacks.
      Lovely photograph.

      1. The new generation of ranchers here are mostly committed to the preservation of wildlife. Most of them have Nature Conservancy conservation easements that severely restrict development. (I have one.) There are problems with predation by wolves and coyotes. I think the main reason so many elk, moose, and deer have taken up residence in the valley is to escape the wolves in the surrounding mountains. This leads to problems of predation on crops, especially alfalfa, and depredation permits for taking elk are common. I don’t permit hunting except for very special cases.

        1. You wrote, “The new generation of ranchers here are mostly committed to the preservation of wildlife.”
          That is great to hear. I hope the attitude continues.
          You mentioned that maybe the ungulate numbers increased due to them moving from coyote and wolf country. Does the state keep track of this, or are you going by a feeling that that is what is happening? Is the overall population staying the same, and they are truly just moving? Just curious.

          1. The elk have always migrated through the valley. Now, according to the old timers, they’re sticking around longer. Coyotes are common, but no danger to elk. Wolves are different. If one shows his face in the valley he’ll probably get shot (illegally).

            1. In Wisconsin, there are now I think about 50 packs of wolves in the north, and of course there are individuals that end up outside the zone. A regular wolf hunting season was begun w/in the past few years in the north. The negotiations for rules for the hunt are in the news quite often.

              We have an occasional lone wolf sighting in SW WI. Of course we will probably never see wolf packs establish well in Southern part of the state; too much human population, vehicles, etc. Wolves are for wilder places. Too bad, tho, because we probably have too many deer in the state.

            2. That’s a shame, as an overpopulation of prey species is a sign of an unhealthy ecosystem with too few predators. Then, again, I’m sure you already know that.

              I’d like to think that humans have matured enough as a species, both technologically and morally, that we don’t have to be the only large predator to live in a region.

              Considering the tourist attraction to your area, perhaps that could be an angle? Get people excited about the possibility of photographing a wolf take down an elk, to the point that the ranchers see the benefits of additional tourist dollars and less damage from too many elk as outweighing the loss of livestock?

              One can hope….


              1. Ben, you wrote, “I’d like to think that humans have matured enough as a species, both technologically and morally, that we don’t have to be the only large predator to live in a region.”

                That would be nice, and maybe as a society we are there in terms of being tolerant of wildlife and even enjoying it.

                Problem is there are not a lot of choices of big predators to keep deer, moose, elk numbers healthy. In the Midwestern/Eastern US, we could have cougars and wolves, and that would be about it. Maybe black bears, but they are more opportunistic omnivores. Problem is that we humans manage our lands in a way that inadvertently promotes ‘edge species’ such as deer –so they are at historically high numbers, and something’s gotta kill some or well, overpopulation problems result.
                I don’t know if that is an issue in Idaho, but it’s an issue in more populated farming states.

    2. “They always look angry”

      Someone correct me if I’m wrong…I’ve heard that raptors often have this angry look due to a supraorbital ridge (that juts out over their eyes), speculated to possibly block out a bit of the overhead sunlight, thus improving their vision.

    1. My ranch is about 4 miles west of Picabo, Idaho. The water is Loving Creek, a tributary of Silver Creek. See http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/idaho/placesweprotect/silver-creek-preserve.xml

      Bald Eagles have nested here successfully for many years. On July 4, of all days, their long-time nest tree blew down in a ferocious wind storm. They’re busy building two new nests, one of which is in the middle of a large Great Blue Heron rookery.

      I’m starting to put some of my photos on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/110292855@N05/sets

  3. I live on the Snake River about 10 miles north of Idaho Falls, and there are an amazing variety of birds here, too. Recently hundreds of goldeneye ducks have been passing through. They’re divers, and I wonder if anyone has ever photographed them under water. I’d love to see what they’re up to down there.

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