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An Afternoon of Photographing Bald Eagles

Updated: May 11

The city of Guntersville, Alabama is a beautiful, small, Southern city. It sits along the shores of Lake Guntersville and has a beautiful walking trail park along Sunset Drive on the north side of the city.

Bald eagles sitting on a limb
One of the nesting eagles at the Sunset Drive Eagles' Nest

Six years ago a young pair of Bald Eagles built a nest in a pine tree right on the spot where the lakeshore and the walking trail and the city street come the closest together. It was like the eagles wanted to be seen, and they have been seen - and photographed - many, many times in the six years since.

Except for the gallery near the end, photos here were taken March 2, 2024.

History of the Eagles' Nest

eagles sitting in a pine tree
Dad eagle at Sunset Drive Park

In November and December of 2018, a young pair of eagles built a nest in a pine tree right over the busy city street, Sunset Drive. It was also only 50 or so feet off the busy walking trail. But I must give the birds credit, they picked a pretty place.

eagle flying over a lake
Bald eagle bringing a fish to the nest

North Alabama has a community of birdwatchers and eagle watchers. Thanks in part to the good people at Lake Guntersville State Park, the birding community in that area is well educated in eagles and their activity. Back in 2018, astute observers at the Sunset Drive walking trail park noted that the pair of eagles building the nest were young adults, as indicated by the streaks of black remaining in their white heads and tails.

eagle with food in its mouth
Eagle taking food to the nest

So in the winter of 2018-2019 there was a nest. but the eagles did not lay any eggs that year. The birds were too young. The following year (2019-2020) the eagles came back and started the nesting cycle and produced one baby eagle. It was a huge hit with local eagle watchers and photographers who named the baby "Junior". Junior hatched in December of 2019 and took his first flight (referred to as "fledging") in early March of 2020.

The eagles didn't seem to mind the crowd at all - and on weekends, it was a crowd. That winter it was not unusual to see 40 to 60 photographers with cameras, and tripods, and spotting scopes set up and watching the eagles. And when it became early spring and the weather was nice there might be over 100 people there watching the nest.

A few eagle watchers started what would become a yearly habit, predicting that the crowd would scare the eagles away. However the eagles didn't care and didn't scare at all. They came back the following year and the next and the next. In the 2020-2021 winter they successfully raised two chicks to become beautiful young eagles. The regular photography crowd called the two babies, "The Kids".

eagle flying and looking at the camera
A flying eagle looks at the photographer

In the autumn of 2021 the eagles returned and started repairing the nest again. That season they once again had one eaglet. We called it, "Little E". Don't ask me why. It successfully fledged in March of 2022. The eagles returned again in the fall of 2022 and started the same nest repair and mating rituals as every previous year, but for some reason, Mother Nature didn't cooperate that year. The eagles stayed around all winter but failed to produce any baby eagles.

an eagle in a tree eating a fish
Eagle eating a fish

So the photography group, who by then had their own Facebook group page, was anxious to see what would happen in October and November of 2023.

The eagles returned right on schedule in 2023 and went to repairing the nest and mating again. That activity paid off this year.

In December of 2023 the eagles hatched one chick. Eventually the photographers would name that chick "Wu" because Wu means five in Chinese and this is the fifth chick to grow in this nest. Eagle Wu grew up and successfully fledged in March of 2024.

young eagle in a tree
Eagle Wu the day before her first flight

Saturday Afternoon

So that brings our story up to a few days ago.

eagle eating a fish
Eagle eating a fish, close photo crop.

After photographing the nest for years and spending so many hours standing there in the cold, I am now more picky about what day I visit, especially in terms of weather. But the weather on Saturday was perfect.

By talking to my photography friends and following the Facebook page, I knew that it was about time for the young eagle to fledge.

The gallery below is a collection of photos made over the past few years.

I love my photography friends. The crowd of photographers is a great group of people. Watching the nest is a slow paced pastime. We have plenty of time to talk and share what is going on in our lives and simply be friends.

We talk about eagles a lot, and cameras, and photography in general. But we also the weather, and talk about family and sports and - well just about anything.

And it would be hard to find a prettier place to sit and talk. Lake Guntersville is beautiful. The walking trail itself is a beautiful trail. And when the fall colors are still around or the spring blooms have started, and the sailboats are moving up and down the river, it is just the best place to be.

eagle sitting in a pine tree
Dad eagle sitting near the nest

We not only talk with our fellow photographers, we visit with the good people walking along the walking trail. We pet many friendly dogs and brag on lots of good looking kids. We just have fun - well, as long as it isn't too cold!

In Closing:

The Bald Eagle in an American symbol and as such is part of Americana. Photographing Bald Eagles is a great hobby and a good chance to meet new people and make good friends - and to get out of the house in the winter months and enjoy Mother Nature.

Comments are welcomed here in the box at the bottom of this page. I really like reading those comments. You can ask questions there as well. I will try hard to give you a good answer.

Also note that if you hit that "Log In" button at the top of this page and become a member of Picture Americana, you will get an email notification whenever a new blog is posted. I really appreciate people becoming members.

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4 ความคิดเห็น

06 มี.ค.

The beauty of nature. Nothing quite like it to lift your spirits.

06 มี.ค.

Yep !



05 มี.ค.

Thanks Rocky. That is an excellent article.

06 มี.ค.

Glad you liked it. And thank you for the comment!


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