A Golden Eagle Nest and Trumpeter Swans: Winter Winding Down


Twenty-five degrees with a steady cold wind is no one’s idea of spring, but despite this week’s wintry weather I found two welcome signs that the season is indeed getting ready to change: a pair of golden eagles building their nest and a small group of trumpeter swans taking a break on their way north.

I’ve had my eye on a bald eagle nest that a pair of eagles has used the past few years, wondering when and if the eagles will return and start tidying it up.   It’s in an old dead tree on the Missouri River, in a beautiful canyon that I wrote about last spring.    Today was cold and windy, but sunny, so we headed out to check on the eagles.      There was no activity at the bald eagle nest, but a mile further downriver we saw two eagles in the distance, above the cliffs on the opposite side of the river.


Golden eagles —  playing with each other, spinning, diving, and totally flirting.


We sat and watched, and they soon started flying back and forth along the cliff, sometimes carrying sticks.  They were working on a nest!

The nest was high up in the cliffs.  I caught one of the eagles as he flew along the cliff face, and realized that I’d also captured a picture of a old nest on the cliffside.



We knew the new nest would be high up in these cliffs,


but we couldn’t find it until we could follow one of the eagles to it.   The eagle landed on the cliff face, but even with binoculars we couldn’t be sure that what appeared to be a nest wasn’t just a bush.    I took a photo anyway, and when I zoomed in, we could see that we’d actually gotten a picture of the golden eagle sitting in the nest.  How cool.


Now that I know where the nest is, I’ll be back in the coming months to see what happens with this eagle family.

And it wasn’t just nesting eagles signalling a new season.    In a patch of ice-free water at the edge of a nearby lake, in the middle of a noisy flock of Canadian geese I discovered a small group of trumpeter swans resting on their way north.  There will be more and more in the coming weeks, along with snow geese, and soon both meadowlarks and bluebirds will return as well.    The geese panicked as I got close, but the swans just regally moved away…




About westerner54

Hello. I'm Cindy, and I love to hike, bike and explore the outdoors - particularly the western U.S.
This entry was posted in Birding, Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Wildlife and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to A Golden Eagle Nest and Trumpeter Swans: Winter Winding Down

  1. oopsjohn says:

    Wow, sounds like weather this wimpy Floridian might actually be able to tolerate. Maybe I can get out there earlier this year!

  2. Zac Peetsma says:

    Sounds like an amazing day!

  3. Beautiful post about some simply stunning birds. What fun to watch the eagles flirting and nest building, and I love your swan images. Weren’t they reflect models posing nicely for you 🙂 Did you use a really strong zoom lens?

  4. Perfect not reflect….grrr to predictive text !!

  5. LuAnn says:

    Loved reading this post. Reminded me of our time in Yellowstone. 🙂

  6. So amazing. I could sit all day with a pair of binoculars and watch eagles build their nest. I saw trumpeter swans on my last trip to Yellowstone. Such a treat!

  7. znara says:

    It looks like you are going to see spring before we do! Enjoy and I hope you will keep us posted on the eagles.

  8. Thanks for the great photos. I love trumpeter swans and it has been too long since I have seen them. Glad spring is on its way!

  9. Janet says:

    Excellent bird photos. How cool is that?

  10. So cool to see these eagles. We drove to a Mississippi River town here in southeastern Minnesota on Saturday in hopes of seeing eagles, but only spotted two. However, while there, a man and his wife who give guided boat tours to see the eagles, showed us a photo he took on January 22 with 450 eagles perched in trees at the park where we were scouting out eagles. It was unbelievable. Now if only I had seen that many eagles…

  11. Excellent ‘catch of the day’!

  12. Wow, looks like such an amazing place to visit.

  13. Pingback: The Eagles. My Favorite Reality Show. | Off the Beaten Path: Hikes, Backpacks, and Travels

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