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Bald Eagles: The Family Tree

May 2, 2016

Bald Eagles: The Family Tree

- as seen by -

J.C. Carey J.C. Carey

I had never seen a bald eagle in the wild.  

A friend of mine posted an image of these beautiful birds of prey. I was so amazed by his photo that I reached out even though I know that the first rule of the “Eagle Club” is that you don’t talk about the “Eagle Club” to avoid throngs of people gathering where eagles live. But I had a new camera and lens that could take great photos from a distance and not disturb the setting.

The two mile climb uphill to get a view of the eagles’ nest seemed like it was never going to end. And the sky threatened rain. My heart was racing a bit as I realized this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

There were no adult eagles in the nest when I first set up my tripod. High in a tree, we spotted one of them and waited. After nearly two hours, it flew off. We knew that could indicate the other parent was probably in the vicinity on its way back to feed the chicks. Luck was with us, and both parents returned to the nest minutes apart.

The overcast light was perfect for capturing the dramatic differences between the eagles’ white heads, brown bodies, and the grayish down of the chicks allowing me to keep them all properly exposed. My camera was taking 14 frames per second. I didn’t want to miss a thing knowing this might be my only chance to see this special moment in nature.


  • Don’t let the overcast weather scare you away from shooting. Many times, animals are more active and make better photos on a cloudy day.
  • Keep a respectful distance away from all wildlife when taking photos. There are great telephoto lenses and converters available now to help photographers capture the moment.
  • Waiting is the hard part, but patience is usually rewarded.
  • Carry your real camera. If you don’t have it with you, you can’t get the shot.
  • Be prepared with extra batteries, memory cards, lens cleaning cloths, and other supplies.
  • Shoot, shoot, shoot. You can always edit later but you can’t get the moment back.


Nikon D5 and Nikon AF-S Nikkor 600mm f4 Lens

, USA Map It


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