“In an eagle there is all the wisdom of the world”
~ Lame Deer ~
This past week, I was gently reminded that photographing wildlife is vastly different than shooting a sporting event. The latter occurs during a designated time at a specific location. You show up, snap a few frames and go home when the final whistle blows (okay… maybe it’s not this easy, but you get the point).
Eagles on the other hand, play by their own rules. They don’t play in the same arena each day. Don’t respond to whistles and can sit on a branch far longer than you can sit on your rear end waiting for them to take flight. A simple fact of life.
Photographing them requires a keen understanding of their patterns and a tremendous amount of patience. Unfortunately, I’m lacking in both of these areas. I anticipate going to the local hot spot, waiting a few minutes and then being able to photograph an aerie (yes, I had to look this word up!) of eagles with talons extended fighting over food with one another on the ice float 25 yards in front of me.
Boy, if it were only that simple.
On the bright side, I have learned a few things about the bald eagle to better prepare me for my next photographic outing. For example, the majestic bird of prey with it’s white head was designated our national bird in 1782 and can only be found in North America. They almost became extinct largely due to the legalizing of the pesticide DDT in 1972. Fortunately, various conservation efforts were successful over several decades resulting in eagles making a comeback. In 1999, they were so abundant, they were removed from the endangered species list.
Hudson River - Bear Mountain Bridge - NY
Ironically, it’s only fitting the bald eagle is thriving in the West Point region of New York State. The Hudson River is an idealistic place for this majestic symbol of freedom and can often be spotted on campus. The Hudson River provides a vast array of food and shelter and lends itself a natural habitat.
I can’t imagine I’m ever going to be an expert on photographing bald eagles, but I’ve come a long way in a short period of time.