Category Archives: Bald eagle

A Great Blue Heron Named Romeo? (Not Art Nbr 11)

In the beginning she’d lobbied to name the turkeys, which I nixed, but I relented later when I saw what she had in mind.

She christened them Mr. Thanksgiving, Mr. Dinner, Mr. Sausage, and—in a wild first-grade culinary stretch — Sushi.

excerpted from “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life”
by Barbara Kingsolver, with Steven Hopp and Camille Kingsolver

© 2017 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Herons with Litter – babsjeheron

Long-time readers may remember posts about an apparently lovelorn young male Great Blue Heron coming of age and his ardent pursuit of an older female.

On this day of cleanup in the cove, the young male had been intently watching the female from yards away down the cove, while the female poked the mud with her long beak, tugging persistently at something.

Just as the young male made his move, strutting up the clove towards the female in his courtship posture, her beak lurched free from the mud, with a huge plastic bag stuck on her lower bill.

I watched from my kayak hidden from their view in the trees along the shore, wondering if his ardor would be cooled by the plastic bag, or if he would try to wrest the trophy from her.

She pivoted on her heels and flew westward out of the cove with the bag trailing from her beak, leaving the young male behind.

I would be anthropomorphizing – something forbidden for field naturalists – were I to describe him as being dejected, of course.

But then again, these are the only two wild creatures to whom I’ve given names.

How much – or how little – do we know about the emotional lives of birds?

And how do we know what we know?

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Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for their recent WPC Challenge: Names. At a presentation at the lake’s Nature Center years ago, the noted raptor rehabilitator Tom Ricardi was asked what he named the Eagles and Hawks and Falcons in his care. His reply was that he did not name the raptors, because to name them would diminish their wild nature. That philosophy struck a chord, but I made an exception for Romeo, shown in the photo here. Similarly, the marvelous author Barbara Kingsolver described teaching her children to not name the animals they were raising as their food, and even she allowed an exception for some obstreperous young male turkeys, who became known as Mr. Thanksgiving, Mr. Dinner, Mr. Sausage and even “Sushi.”

I’ve written here in the past about Tom Ricardi’s delightful presentation of Bald Eagles at our Nature Center, and this short video shows Tom with a 35 year old Golden Eagle, Turkey Vulture, Kestrel, Gyrfalcon and more.

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From July 1 through July 30, 2016, I was the Featured Artist of the Month at the Summer Street Gallery. The Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced the walls of the lobby and theater in a one-woman show at The Center for Arts in Natick. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2017 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN

ew a cardinal

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Beautiful Great Blue Herons After the Storm (Not Art Nbr 10)

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron and Four Chicks in Nest

The house rocked.
Windowpanes trembled with each percussive blow.
There was no separation at all between lightning bolt and thunderclap.
I huddled in the middle of the room, as far from windows as possible, waiting out the storm at ground zero.
But it wasn’t ground zero at all.

Photographer gets too close to a great blue heron nest while the nestlings are being fed by an adult.

Photographer gets too close to a great blue heron nest while the nestlings are being fed by an adult.

Close readers of this blog are aware of the protectiveness I feel towards the Great Blue Herons and their nesting places, especially the nesting island in the southernmost lake. I’ve written here about the fact that humans are among the most dangerous threats to the Herons.

Over the years, I’ve fretted about too much boat traffic encircling the nesting island, concerned that the adult Herons would abandon the nest and their chicks. And I’ve watched as predators like Osprey and Red Tailed Hawks threatened them.

Despite cautious monitoring of small craft and water skiers looping the island, despite watching with a lump in my throat as the predatory birds set their sights on the Heron chicks, at the end of the day, the nest was toppled by extreme winds.

An act of Nature, not of Man.

It was the Great Blue Herons’ nesting island – and not my home – that was at ground zero for the storm that night, and the tall tree supporting the Herons’ nest collapsed.

Only two months before the storm, I wrote of the sounds of the four Great Blue Heron chicks in the nest as music to my ears:

Chih-chih-chih… chih-chih-chih… chih-chih-chih… changes.
It’s not just a David Bowie song.

And what of those four chicks in the photo at the top of this post? Had they fledged before the storm took out their nest? Surely that would be their only hope for survival.

I returned to the lake every day I could after the storm, looking for survivors. I saw at least one of the fledgling chicks and one of the adult, parent Herons. My heart beamed elatedly.

© 2017 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron adult two days after the storm – babsjeheron

Back in August 2015, I wrote of that nest

Those chicks are destined to be the last brood to fledge from our island.

© 2017 Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Fledgling sighting locations on the Lake September 2016 – babsjeheron

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Fast forward one year, to September 2016. I had no idea where – or even IF – the Herons would breed again in that area. You may remember my story of the Bald Eagle stalking the Great Blue Fledglings one rainy day.

That day, the Eagle was looking for lunch in all the wrong places.

That day, I counted more Great Blue fledglings than I’d ever seen before in a single day.

I’ve been looking for the new nesting spot, to no avail so far. That is a good thing. If I can’t find it, neither will the water skiers with their noisy motor boats.

I love happy endings like that.

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Thanks to Ben H and WordPress for their recent WPC Challenge: Resilient. If surviving that fierce storm and coming back the following year with an even larger crop of fledglings is not a sign that the Great Blue Herons are resilient, I don’t know what is. Events like that storm and the survival of some of the Herons in the aftermath, and their successful breeding the following year are also increasing my own resilience, increasing my optimism for the future survival of the small community of Herons at the lake. Each year there are new threats – especially from habitat destruction along the shoreline and in a few of the coves – but so far, each year, the Herons maintain their wing-hold at the lake.

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From July 1 through July 30, 2016, I was the Featured Artist of the Month at the Summer Street Gallery. The Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced the walls of the lobby and theater in a one-woman show at The Center for Arts in Natick. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2017 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Kayaking, TCAN

Great Blue Herons 1, Bald Eagle 0 (Not Art Nbr 6)

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron watching a Bald Eagle in the rain September 2016 – babsjeheron

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Bald Eagle in the rain at water level – babsjeheron

Wherein the Bald Eagle was looking for lunch in all the wrong places.

Readers may remember the dismay felt when a fierce storm toppled the Great Blue Herons’ nesting tree on the island in August, 2015. Back then, I wrote of that nest

those chicks are destined to be the last brood to fledge from our island.

Fast forward one year. I had no idea where – or even IF – the Herons would breed again in that area.

[Editor’s Note: All of these photos were taken in the rain, with the camera encased in a gallon-size ZipLok bag. Ordinarily, I feel that if I need to use yellow circles to point out features in a photo, I’m on a slippery slope and probably shouldn’t publish them, but this was an extraordinary experience, a once-in-a-lifetime and so I’ve made an exception.]

Suspense was palpable as I ventured south in search of Great Blue Heron fledglings. Over a short distance I counted them. One, two, three… then four, then five. Could there really be five fledglings there? One adult, then two adults – both on alert, staring in the same direction from opposite shores. And then Fledglings six, seven, eight on various patches of shoreline. I hardly knew which way to aim and focus the camera.

I panned down the western shore, and the Eagle perched on a stump at the water’s edge suddenly filled the viewfinder. So that’s what the adult Herons were watching so intensely.

Scanning the shoreline father south from the Eagle, the whole picture came into view. The Eagle was closely watching two Great Blue Heron fledglings.

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Bald Eagle on Shore Watching Great Blue Heron Fledglings – babsjeheron

Great Blue Herons are not noted for being playful birds, yet fledgling Herons, like youngsters of many species, often engage in rough and tumble play. The two fledglings on the shore were engaging in mock-territorial squabbles, one challenging the other, back and forth until they lost interest, all the while unaware of the danger posed by the Eagle nearby.

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Fledglings squabble in the rain – babsjeheron

The Bald Eagle quickly took flight up into the tree canopy, unseen by the fledglings, but the adult Heron nearest stood up higher, alert on the shore. I scanned the trees, myself, but no sign of the Eagle.

The fledglings, meanwhile, had separated and settled onto separate areas of the shore. I worked my camera, trying to capture as many birds as possible in the rain.

Suddenly chaos erupted from the trees, and the Eagle swooped out and down, but just as quickly, some of the Herons took flight, too.

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Bald Eagle swoops out of tree towards Heron fledglings – babsjeheron

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron Fledgling heads East and Bald Eagle soars West – babsjeheron

By this point, the Heron fledglings had scattered, and the Bald Eagle left the area, without its intended lunch. In the top photo here, you can see the Eagle soaring up and over the trees at the end of the lake.

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Bald Eagles Dispersing – babsjeheron

But wait, what’s that you see in the bottom frame above? It was taken 5 seconds after the frame above it, along the same patch of shore.

Yes, there were two Bald Eagles that day.

Amazing.
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Thanks to Ben H and WordPress for their recent WPC Challenge: Rare. This was an exceptionally rare experience to witness. In 2015, I had no sightings of Bald Eagles. Additionally, the bumper crop of Great Blue Heron Fledglings was the largest I’ve observed. On a scale of 1 to 10, that day on the lake was a 15 for me… But not for the Bald Eagle, who left without having lunch. For that, the Great Blue Herons and I are grateful.

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From July 1 through July 30, 2016, I was the Featured Artist of the Month at the Summer Street Gallery. The Great Blue Heron photographs once again graced the walls of the lobby and theater in a one-woman show at The Center for Arts in Natick. In addition to the visual arts shown at the gallery, TCAN has a lively, dynamic lineup of upcoming performing artists.

A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2016 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagle, Kayaking, TCAN

Just for Fun – A Silly Genre

As any honest wildlife photographer can attest, there’s nothing “rare” about the subject of a photo suddenly leaping or flying or running just out of the frame as the shutter trips.

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Most photographers never let those photos see the light of day, but not Lyle from Krahnpix, who boldly posted his Inaugural Butt Collection last fall.

The moment this Bald Eagle cruised directly over my head, I was reminded of Lyle’s great collection (click here).

The way the sunlight paints the underside of the eagle’s wing in this photo gives it some artistic merit, but file this post under just for fun.

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Thanks to Cheri Lucas Rowlands and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: On The Move. The Bald Eagle was definitely on the move, stroking his enormous wings handily as he flew directly over my head.

Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for his Wild Bird Wednesday prompt.

Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.

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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Bald Eagle

He started it! No, she started it!

Any day you see a Bald Eagle is a good day.

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Bald Eagle eyes the photographer.

I’m not sure who started it. Was it Phil Lanoue who first said it? Maybe it was Gunta who said it first?

Not important, but I do get a kick out of seeing the banter between those two about eagles.

There’s a saying in birding: if you didn’t get a photo, it didn’t happen. Last summer, I saw my first wild Bald Eagle – twice. The first time, I grabbed the binocs instead of camera, and by the time I had the camera up, the eagle had flown. The second time, I was ready for her, and got the camera poised and ready in time, except for that pesky lens cap, which I had forgotten to remove. Since I failed to get photos, neither of those encounters counted.

This weekend however, was a different story. I stood on the shoreline yesterday watching a pair of Bald Eagles more than a quarter mile away.

At one point, I realized one of the eagles was watching me watch them. He suddenly swooped up from his perch atop the pines and made a beeline across the water. In the animated sequence that follows next, you can see the eagle turn it’s head to aim its eye directly down at me in the third frame, before resuming his usual flight posture and passing overhead.

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Bald Eagle flying overhead.
© 2014 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

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(To be continued.)

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Thanks to Cheri Lucas Rowlands and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: On The Move. The Bald Eagle was definitely on the move, speeding across more than a quarter mile of water to check up on the photographer watching from shore. Also, the animated image represents another form of “movement.”

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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle & Friends in the Community

The eagle’s eyes flashed, and in a heartbeat it was straining, wings spread wide and pumping, aiming straight at the lens of my camera and me! So fierce, so majestic, so close…

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Bald eagle about to take off.

…and so securely tethered to its handler.

This week, Cheri and WordPress have asked us to show community, and so the photos here are from a community program hosted at the Nature Center by the Commonwealth’s Department of Conservation and Recreation. The speaker that day brought an exhibit of live birds from his raptor rescue center. (I’ll update the post with his website and contact details as soon as I receive them. Although I had snail-mailed photo enlargements to them, I don’t have a URL, unfortunately.)

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

For privacy reasons, photos of the children aren’t shown in this post, but as the presence of the school bus affirms, the crowd had many children, who listened raptly and were delighted by the raptors on display. I’ll update you with the web link for the rescue center as soon as I receive it.

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Giving the crowd an up-close and personal view of the turkey vulture.

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

This photo gives a good look at how large the bald eagle is relative to the size of man. Each of the wooden crates in tbe background contains another raptor to be shown to the crowd: Red Tailed Hawk, Saw-whet Owl, Turkey Vulture, Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel and more. Bald eagles and peregrine falcons are bred and then raised from egg to release in the wild at the rescue center.

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Some of the rescued birds are too damaged to be returned to the wild, such as this owl.

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Northern saw-whet owl.

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Kestrel

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Turkey vulture

© Babsje (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Peregrine falcon.

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Thanks to Cheri Lucas Rowlands and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Community prompt. She asked for photos that speak to the topic of “community.” This Nature Center program is one of an ongoing series hosted at the lake for our community.

Thanks to Ailsa for her Weekly Travel Theme: Symbol prompt. The Bald Eagle is the symbol of the US. This was the closest I have ever been to an eagle, just about five feet away. The eagle looked majestic and fierce.

Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for the Wild Bird Wednesday prompt.

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A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

(These photos were taken July 27, 2007.)

© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)

Bald Eagle, Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon

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