Golden Eagle soaring over the Great Salt Lake

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Golden Eagle soaring over the Great Salt LakeGolden Eagle soaring over the Great Salt Lake – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/2500, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light, not baited

It has been quite some time since I have seen a Golden Eagle while out looking for birds on Antelope Island State Park. I used to see them regularly during the winter but I haven’t seen any on my trips out there this winter at all but I also haven’t seen many Black-tailed Jackrabbits either and on the island that is their preferred prey.

Three years ago today I found and photographed a Golden Eagle that was soaring along the east side of Antelope Island over the Great Salt Lake. When I first saw the bird it was almost to close to photograph at times but when it moved out over the lake I was able to take this image with the lake showing at the bottom, the marsh, out of focus buildings on the east side of the lake and the distant Wasatch Mountains in the frame.

A few days ago I spotted two Golden Eagles soaring over the west side of the Oquirrh Mountains that I wish I had been able to photograph but they were both too far away. Golden Eagles are nemesis birds for me, I still don’t have images of them that I have dreamed of and hoped to take but I was happy enough with this photo because of the great dorsal view of the wings, tail and back of the eagle plus I even got a catch light in the eagle’s eye although that is hard to see at web presentation size.

A few Golden Eagle facts:


  • Golden Eagles can be year round residents in their range but there are also Golden Eagles who are short to medium distance migrants.
  • Golden Eagles are found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. They prefer open and semi-open country including canyons, mountains, cliffs, bluffs, escarpments, grasslands, shrublands and sagebrush steppe.
  • Golden Eagles eat small to medium sized mammals including, rabbits, hares, ground squirrels, marmots and prairie dogs but they will also take down larger animals and will consume carrion.
  • Golden Eagles lay 1 to 3 eggs which hatch in 41 to 45 days. Both sexes incubate and they are monogamous.
  • A group of eagles can be called a “jubilee”, “tower” and “soar” of eagles.
  • Golden Eagles can live to be more than 31 years old.

I think it is time for me to head to far northern Utah again soon because I saw several up there just to the north of the Great Salt Lake a couple of months ago. I was able to take photos of those eagles but it was later in the morning, the sun was high and that caused inky black shadows under the bird that weren’t aesthetically pleasing to my eyes so almost all of those photos were deleted.

It is cloudy here this morning and I don’t think I will be able to see the Lunar Eclipse of the Super Blue Blood Moon this morning or even get out into the field. Maybe a trip to the local pond will scare up a great bird. You never know.

Life is good.



  1. Pepe Forte February 2, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    Love the pic and the narrative. I am surprised that Golden’s live so long. Beautiful bird. Thanks Mia.

  2. Suzanne January 31, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    I saw 7 of them yesterday and was hardly looking, sadly I only had my cell phone with me 🙁 They were easy to spot, sitting on power poles and were paired up except for the 7th one. This was in an area used by sheep herders on BLM land –a good, flat road but out in the grassy desert off of I-80 and Lakeside exit (sign says something about military site, and you go that way, but you would be driving on BLM land), maybe as far as 20 miles. There were a lot of old corrals out there, and little else. You can see the Bonneville salt flats from the road once you get down it a ways.

  3. Patty Chadwick January 31, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    Getting a shot of a Golden is great, but just seeing one would make me day…

  4. Marty K January 31, 2018 at 8:05 am

    Any shot of a Golden is a good shot in my book! 🙂 The eclipse was fabulous this morning. I’m sorry you didn’t get a chance to see it.

    • Laura Culley January 31, 2018 at 8:12 am

      My Jack Russell TERRORIST decided I needed to see the blood part of the Super Blue Blood moon this morning! She hasn’t done that for years, but she INSISTED that I must get up on time. Since I’m just the hired help servant around here, I followed directions. It was lovely. Sorry you didn’t get to see it, Mia!

  5. Laura Culley January 31, 2018 at 7:50 am

    Don’t goldens just take your breath away? It’s such a joy to see them whenever I can and my heart always skips a beat or two with their sheer magnificence! I’m surprised I don’t see more here since we’ve got black-tailed jacks all over the place. Jack and I are looking for cottontails and we’ll see five or six jacks to each cottontail and Jack doesn’t want anything to do with jacks! He just watches them run!
    When I lived in Wyoming, I watched a mated pair of goldens take down a pronghorn working in tandem with each other, hitting it repeatedly until they subdued it. I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time that day with the idea of flying Mariah (FRT) in that area. I saw them just before I let Mariah out and decided to wait until they were otherwise occupied before I added Mariah to the mix. Once they started feeding about half a mile away, I figured it was safe and proceeded about my agenda. I will never forget that sight!
    My favorite of the three names for goldens would be a jubilee and/or a soar. Just my favorite–your mileage may vary. 😉

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