My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus

Bald Eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, our national symbol here in the states. Not only are they are national bird, but they are also the symbol of the come back that wildlife can make when mankind learns to quit killing for the sake of killing, and to stop the indiscriminate poisoning of our environment.

I am going to do this post a little differently than the others in this series so far. Since most people are familiar with bald eagles, even if they haven’t seen one in person, I’m not going to add any info about them. There are plenty of sources far better than I for that. And, bald eagles have appeared here regularly since I began this blog, I see them often while kayaking, and less frequently while hiking. I am sure that they will continue to show up here from time to time.

For this post, I’m going to tell the story of how these photos came to be.

I was taking my daily walk, and spotted a young fox squirrel half asleep on the limb of a cottonwood tree. That’s not unusual, I see it there nearly everyday, especially if the sun is out. Normally, I don’t bother to photograph the squirrel, because it perches quite high up in the tree, and normally I shoot photos of squirrels like this.

Fox squirrel

Fox squirrel

But on this day, I decided that even though the squirrel was really farther away than I like, that I would shoot a few, just for practice if nothing else.

Fox squirrel dozing in the sun

Fox squirrel dozing in the sun

Suddenly, the squirrel snapped to attention, and scurried off to hide in the tree. I knew that I hadn’t been the cause of the squirrel’s rapid departure, I normally walk right under it and have been known to wave to it as I go past. The squirrel normally just watches me pass. I knew that there had to be a reason for the squirrel to act the way that it did, so I began looking around for a predator, and spotted this bald eagle headed almost straight at me. With the sunlight gleaming off from its white head and tail feathers, I knew immediately that the bird coming towards me was an adult bald eagle!

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

I knew that I was going to get branches when I shot that one, I wanted to get my camera’s auto-focus locked in on the eagle to continue tracking it when it did come out from behind the trees, and because I wanted a record of the sighting, no matter what. So, I kept shooting.

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

By now, he eagle was drifting off to the south of me, a bad thing, as that was putting the eagle between the sun and myself, and any other photos would have turned out too bad to use. In another stoke of luck, the eagle turned, and did a circle right over my head!

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight and checking me out

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

Bald Eagle in flight

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating, 40 years ago, there were no bald eagles nesting in the lower peninsula of Michigan. Now, they can be seen flying over suburban Grand Rapids!

It’s funny how things work out sometimes. In my post on Great Blue Herons, I included a shot of a heron flipping a fish around to get the fish in the correct position for the heron to swallow it. I wasn’t even going to photograph that heron that day, as it was a little farther away than I would have liked, and not in the best position for what I thought would be a good shot, but I started shooting anyway, and got the only photo of a heron flipping a fish that I have managed so far.

On this day, if I hadn’t decided to photograph the out of range squirrel, I probably wouldn’t have noticed its reaction when it spotted the eagle. I may not have noticed the eagle if it hadn’t been for the squirrel. I wouldn’t have had my camera out and ready for the eagle when flew past. And, why the eagle decided to turn around and circle right over my head is one of those things beyond an explanation. It’s what I call “photographer’s karma”, and makes up for all the times I have worked my butt off trying to get a good shot of something, but had the chance ruined by things out of my control. Some days, you just get lucky!

I’ll probably add some photos of perched eagles at a later date, but that’s it for right now.

This is number 25 in my photo life list, only 325 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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16 responses

  1. Vicki

    I find it fascinating that the squirrel (very cute, by the way) became aware of the eagles presence from that far away.. great set of photos.

    February 9, 2013 at 10:45 am

    • Thanks. You shouldn’t be surprised by the squirrel, he had the advantage of a view from higher above the ground than I, plus, seeing predators early is how they stay alive. We humans tend to forget that staying alive is a constant thing for wildlife, one momentary lapse, and they become a meal for something else.

      February 9, 2013 at 1:28 pm

  2. Good work.

    February 9, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    • Thanks Tom

      February 9, 2013 at 6:51 pm

  3. plantsamazeme

    The Fox squirrel is too cute. The Bald Eagle with its wings spread wide is impressive.
    🙂

    February 9, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    • Thank you!

      February 9, 2013 at 10:01 pm

  4. i love birds in flight pictures and this was great

    February 9, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    • Thank you very much!

      February 9, 2013 at 10:01 pm

  5. Beautiful! And Great shots! I am fortunate eough to live in a town set on the Mississippi River and they are plentiful here, also close to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, It is an awesome place to visit and learn more about the species. We have come a long way in the comeback, but have a ways to go. I wish people would realize the lead problem in bullets for hunting and fishing sinkers. BIG problem for wildlife, especially Bald Eagle and other predator birds. Thanks for this post, Jerry!

    February 9, 2013 at 9:23 pm

  6. Spectacular pictures! Great job!

    February 9, 2013 at 9:24 pm

  7. Excellent pictures. I wonder if the eagle thought you were hiding the squirrel. I’m glad the little bugger lived to see another day.

    February 10, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    • I think that there are times when all wildlife is curious about humans, and I think that’s also true of the sounds of a camera for some reason.

      I would have hated to photograph the squirrel being hauled by the eagle, but I would have.

      February 10, 2013 at 7:14 pm

  8. Thedrummerboy

    Awesome pictures of the Bald Eagle.I was walking in Riverside park Grand Rapids today 02/12/13 and seen a large bird about 150 yards away land in a tree next to the river.
    From that distance I could tell it was a Bald Eagle,unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me so no pictures.It did however fly away when I got close to the tree,so I was able to see it soar a few maneuvers over the Grand while getting dive bombed by seagulls before heading off to the otherside.
    It is a truely majestic creature.I hope it sticks around,because it is a site to behold.

    February 12, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    • Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. There are several eagle nests along the Grand River, so chances are, you’ll be seeing more of the eagle in the future.

      February 12, 2013 at 12:28 pm

  9. One of my top five faves! No matter how many times I see one, I still get excited as if it’s the first time. So majestic!

    February 20, 2013 at 9:33 pm

    • Yes they are, thank you.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:06 am