When I was a teenager in Massachusetts in the 1960s and 70s, there were no breeding pairs of bald eagles in the entire state. I remember seeing a bald eagle on a trip west with my family, and it was a huge deal. The recovery of the bald eagle is one of the great ecological success stories for my generation, and even though it is hardly rare to see bald eagles nowadays, there is still a thrill when we get to see one. We understand what we nearly lost. To have the chance to watch eagles in their nests was unheard of when I was young. Which explains my excitement when yesterday I found a third eagle nest this spring with a nesting pair.
Earlier this month we discovered a golden eagle nest on a cliff above the Missouri River. Last week I went out to check on the goldens and found that a pair of bald eagles had returned to a nest about a mile upriver from the golden eagles. From across the river I watched the two of them putting the final touches on their nest.
Yesterday we went to the Warm Springs Wildlife Management Area. Even though we knew that the ponds there are still mostly frozen, we are simply antsy for spring, and it was a beautiful sunny day.
As we hiked closer to this grove of cottonwoods and willows I could see an eagle nest in one of the old cottonwoods.
A little closer yet, and we could see the bald eagle in the nest.
She was pretty well hidden, but she was there!
We walked around the grove, looking for her partner, and found him regally sitting in a nearby tree.
He eyed me as I got closer…
and then took off when I took one step too many.
With pronghorns keeping an eye on us from a nearby hillside, we continued on to the ponds.
Only about a third of the water is open, but we found plenty of geese, goldeneyes, and even a few trumpeter swans.
As we passed the cottonwood grove on our way back to the car, the male eagle had returned and was keeping guard near the nest. We let him be and kept on our way.
(By the way, the Minnesota Live Eagle Cam is up and running, and the mother eagle is now incubating an egg. Well worth checking it out.)
It is a wonderful gift to have eagles back in our lives isn’t it? I completely agree that it’s always a thrill to see one, and I hope I always feel that way. Stunning pictures – I feel like I was right up in that tree with him.
Thanks. It really is something the way they can lift our spirits.
Sounds like a great day.
It was pretty good!
I remember the near loss of the bald eagles. About 9 years ago I visited relatives in MN. They took me to Itasca State Park and pointed out a bald eagle. I was so happy to have seen one, the first in my life, and took many photos, none of which came out. Yours are great!
Thank you! I’m glad you had that opportunity. Do you not see them in Yosemite?
I didn’t see my first bald eagle until I was in my late 30’s, and it still thrills me when I see them now. Like you, I haven’t seen any here in TX (yet), but I have seen them three hours north in OK. To see them in their huge nests is always amazing.
They really are amazing, aren’t they? And their nests are SO huge.
The bald eagle is such a majestic bird. Love your photos. 🙂
My son was fishing by using diddy (sp?) poles lining the bank, and when he went to check on them, a bald eagle was eating one of the fish. Scared him to death because the eagle saw him first, and all he heard at first was those huge wings beating as the eagle took off! Definitely thrilling for him.
Thrilling, for sure! What a great story.
Great pictures of the bald eagles, it is always amazing to see one….I haven’t seen one here but I used to see them when we would camp in Wisconsin.
Interesting – I would have thought you’d see them a lot in your area, but it must not be bald eagle habitat, I guess.
Great pix, especially of the eagles. There was an interview with Kate Davis of Missoula on the Missoula NPR station the other night. She spent a month photographing a nest with 4 eaglets along the Clark Fork. She has a book out – haven’t seen it, but sounds like she got some amazing photos and she had great stories about what she observed them doing…such as hauling the hind end of a deer into the nest!
Thanks. I heard a part of that interview as well, and saw some of her incredible photographs at the Holter in Helena. I need to get her book, for sure!