A Golden Eagle that was TOO close

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Golden Eagle - TOO Close!Golden Eagle – TOO Close

Early yesterday morning Antelope Island State Park did not have the best conditions for bird photography, there were clouds, a bit of lake fog and low light so when I spotted this Golden Eagle perched on a Sagebrush in those conditions I was dismayed.

Several Black-billed Magpies drew my attention to the eagle, I wouldn’t say they were mobbing it but I could tell they were very aware of the Golden eagle’s presence. I was able to get a few images of the Golden on top of the Sagebrush before it took flight, oh; how I wish the light had been much better than it actually was. The eagle pooped and I knew it was going to take flight so I started taking images as soon as it lifted off and to my surprise it flew towards us and then right over the pickup.

I didn’t have time to pull back my zoom but I was able to lock on focus right after the bird came too close for me to fit its whole body in the frame. And the image ended up high key because of the clouds in the background.

Most of the time I “wish” that Golden Eagles were closer so I could take some high quality images of them but yesterday I was wishing this one had stayed just a bit further away. The life of a bird photographer… full of joy, wonder and sometimes disappointment but I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

The light got better of course later in the morning when the Golden Eagle was nowhere to be found. The rest of the morning was spent at Farmington Bay WMA where I took the Great Blue Heron images I published earlier today and some Barn Owls in flight.


*This image is full frame by the way!


  1. bill senske January 19, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    Mia, that photo of the eagle is unbelievable. 1. Have you seen the picture of a photographer that got attacked by a golden that thought he was paying too much attention to him. That is too close.
    2. Can i send this to the bod folks…obvious credits and promotion of onthewingphotography.
    3. this should be your new logo.

    • Mia McPherson January 20, 2013 at 8:41 am

      Thanks Bill, it was fun to get the golden that close. I have seen that video. I sent you the file to share with your BOD folks. I’ve never been able to pick a single bird to use as my logo which is why I designed the “On The Wing Photography” one over the “wings” of a bird! Thanks so much for commenting!

  2. Sally Wood January 17, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Fantastic! I had one fly over my car in full front windshield view once!

    • Mia McPherson January 19, 2013 at 4:07 pm

      They are very large birds and look even larger close up Sally!

  3. Prairie Birder January 14, 2013 at 10:17 am

    It’s not too close for my liking!

  4. Tami Vogel (@_CabinGirl) January 14, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Kudos on grabbing such great focus, Mia! I can’t imagine how quickly all this happened. A stunning shot of a mighty bird.

    • Mia McPherson January 19, 2013 at 4:06 pm

      Thank you Tami, it all happened very fast, no time to change settings or zoom back.

  5. Robert Mortensen January 14, 2013 at 8:01 am

    The image does well to convey…”I’m one big eagle. Check me out!”

    • Mia McPherson January 19, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      You are right Robert!

  6. Jane Chesebrough January 13, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    You did better than i but I do understand your frustration.I heard from a woman today there is a golden eagle in the area where I was. Would love to see it. There were a few areas of duck feathers on the trail, so will have to go back there and check it out.

    • Mia McPherson January 19, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      All we can do is our best Jane!

  7. Larry Jordan January 13, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Amazing Mia. I would just like to see a Golden Eagle more often than every couple of years 😉 If I could do that, I would let them come as close as they wanted, photo or not!

    • Mia McPherson January 19, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      Larry, I wish I saw Golden Eagles more often than I do too, they aren’t as easy to find as Bald Eagles around here. Thanks for commenting.

  8. judy watson January 13, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    Mia!!! That is outstanding!

  9. Merrill Ann Gonzales January 13, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Somehow I think this shot may be better than if it had been further back. You can see more detail and the very fact of the cut-offs seems to bring the bird in even closer for a more intimate view … I did a drawing of a red-tailed hawk one time for a poet, and I tried several drawings of the whole hawk… but I couldn’t get the effect I needed until I came in and did just the head, shoulders and a bit of wing. That way the full power of the bird seemed to “magically” appear on the page.

    • Mia McPherson January 19, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      Your right Merrill, sometimes a close can work better and be more powerful!

  10. Loekie January 13, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    I still love this picture and the way it’s posted it focus totally on the head. I sometimes am in a position that you have a post or branches in the way, but you still take the shot as it might be the one time chance. 🙂

    • Mia McPherson January 19, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      Thanks Loekie, I am glad my focus was on the head otherwise this would have been in my delete bin.

  11. Laurence Butler January 13, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Oh such problems… 🙂

    • Mia McPherson January 19, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      I know Laurence… LOL 😉

  12. Sherry in MT January 13, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    I still LOVE this shot – you don’t always have it all to make a lovely picture. We all “wish” for better light, better angle, blah blah blah. What is cool is when you don’t have those but still get a stellar shot like this! I’m trying to be better about accepting the conditions I’m given and shooting anyway and learning from it! Just nice to know that I’m not the only one “wishing”! LOL

    • Mia McPherson January 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm

      Sherry, you aren’t the only one wishing! I wish we would have had more birds to photography today is a good example of my wishing 🙂

  13. Bob Bushell January 13, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Who can imagine that it is too close to your camera, genius the only word for you.

    • Mia McPherson January 19, 2013 at 4:00 pm

      Thank you Bob, I think the bird was great for flying in the way it did.

Comments are closed.