The Eagle Has Nearly Landed: Images from a Cold Day

Winter, sch-minter  Yes, it’ cold. So what. If ten below zero doesn’t faze the critters around here, why should it keep me, with all my hi-tech insulation options, inside? I guess the answer is, it doesn’t. On days like this, I only have to remind myself that cold is temporary, photographs last forever, and chicks dig frostbite.

Despite the sub-zero temperatures, parts of these rivers I live near aren’t frozen over, and wherever there is open water in late January, there is abundant wild life. Such was the case this morning. By the time I left my vehicle at 7AM, the thermometer showed a warming trend–it was only four below zero (that’s zero Fahrenheit, for my non-American friends.) The open water comes courtesy of the power plants around here discharging warmed water into the rivers. Love ’em or hate ’em, those power plant discharges are popular with the local fauna.

Consider the Bald eagles. They live primarily on fish and carrion. Open water is all they really need to survive. All I need to survive the winter is something to photograph. It’s a win-win.

I’ve spent the last couple days following the eagles, trying to capture that perfect, “eagle pulling a fish from the water” shot. I’m getting closer, but there is still a ways to go. I will keep trying for “the” shot, but here is where I left it today…seven eagle images that I can share:

(Clicking on an image will take you to a larger version.)

If you are a fish in the St. Croix or Mississippi Rivers, this is the last thing you want to see.
If you look carefully, you can see part of the tail and dorsal fin of this eagle’s next meal.
Probably as close as I came to what I was after–just a little late.
I call this “Fauxhawk”
The bird with the “fauxhawk” fractured his beak at some point. It looks to be healing, but it’s a good reminder that life isn’t easy for these Birds of Prey.
Many of the shots I got were like this, too distant and poor light.. But I kind of like the feel this gives anyway.
Wingtips frequently hit the water when the birds are hunting. Occasionally the entire eagle will take an unintended bath, but it doesn’t seems to harm them, even in the subzero temperatures.
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