An amazing encounter…or two with a young Bald Eagle

/, Birds, Davis County, Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, Utah/An amazing encounter…or two with a young Bald Eagle

Close up of a one year old Bald EagleClose up of a one year old Bald Eagle – Nikon D200, f/10, 1/125, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

I’ve found Bald Eagles difficult to approach most of the time which is why a long lens is often needed. But not this one year old bald eagle, it has actually flown into an area where there are 8 or more photographers standing with their tripods and gear which has been very surprising.

I first saw this yearling bald eagle yesterday perched on a post on the side of a culvert posing for the other photographers that were already there. After a bit the bird flew off to the west and I liked the previews I was seeing on my LCD screen of the images I had taken of it. I thought it was very tolerant of the people and photographers viewing and photographing it.

I mentioned this bird in my post yesterday: Bald Eagles – Age Progression from one to five years old

A little later on a juvenile bald eagle flew from the west towards the group of photographers I was standing with and glided about 10 feet over our heads to land on a post not 15 feet from us. By now I was amazed and astonished by the behavior of this yearling bald eagle.

Horizontal portrait of a one year old Bald EagleOne year old Bald Eagle portrait –  Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/250, ISO 400, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

After about a half an hour the bird flew off but then returned again to land on a sign post near the road. When I left the young bald eagle was still perched on the post seemingly undisturbed by human presence.

I’ve observed at times where younger birds seemed a little less bothered by human presence before but they were nothing like this eagle who appeared to show no fear. The eagle appeared very healthy, it flew in and out several times and its eyes were clear and bright. No signs were visible that it might be ill.

I puzzled about it last night and felt very privileged to have seen this behavior and to have photographed the bird. It stayed for awhile and flew off. I thought it might be the last time I’d see the eagle but I was wrong.

This morning when I went out to the same location to photograph this morning I was once again amazed as I saw the one year old bald eagle perched on a sign post. Stunned may be more like it.

I took some images of the bird and then walked to the other side of the road to try and get some images of the other eagles in the area and kept turning to see if the bird was still there. It lifted off after a bit and flew towards the west into the stands of phragmites in the marsh.


One year old Bald Eagle in flightOne year old Bald Eagle in flight – Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/1250, +1.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited

The other eagles were not getting close enough to take images so all of the photographers were standing around chatting. I noticed a bird lift up out of the phragmites and said “bird up” as the juvenile flew straight towards us and we all started to take images. As the eagle flew closer and closer and I thought we’d get a fly over.

Imagine the surprise that we all felt when it landed on a snow covered railing not 12 feet from the closest photographer!

It was so close I had to walk across the road with my tripod and camera to get full body shots!


Perched one year old Bald EaglePerched one year old Bald Eagle – Nikon D200, f10, 1/200, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 225 mm, natural light, not baited

The one year old Bald eagle didn’t stay there long, I only took 60 images before it flew away. Maybe it will show up again the next time I am out photographing in that location.

I mentioned on an earlier post here that some days are magic. I’ve just had two more!


PS: I do hope this one year old does develop more hesitation to be around humans, not everyone would respect its boundaries like the people &  photographers have the last two days.


  1. Jim Hackley April 4, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Very cool experience to be that close to a bald eagle and on multiple days, amazing. Excellent images.

  2. Brian Gatlin February 22, 2011 at 8:39 am

    sounds like a great experience, Mia, and a really cool bird. I agree, I hope he develops a little more wariness about people. Here at Grand Canyon, the California Condors are extremely curious, and young birds sometimes get way to close to people (safe in the national park, but not elsewhere), so we have to haze them and chase them off (but that is with direct instructions from the biologists on when and how to do it–not saying that this should be done with the eagle or any other wild bird).

  3. Julie Brown February 18, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Such gorgeous portraits you have made of this spectacular young eagle! That must have been a treat to be that close. I do not have experience with young eagles, but a few years ago a pair of Cooper’s Hawks nested in a tree next door to my house and the four juveniles hung out in my yard near the feeders all summer. It was fun watching them, although they kept many of the songbirds from coming into the yard. I was able to get within ten feet of them a couple of times to get photos.

  4. Alicia February 18, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    What an awesome sight! I particularly like the last shot, with the beautiful snow-covered perch. Also, I am amused by your last little note, since you seem to have placed people and photographers into two separate categories. I can’t argue though–you photographers are a special breed. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

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