This past week, I got to experience a large number of Bald Eagles in my area which made for some great photo opportunities. In this weeks blog, I’m going to share the reasons why they were around in such large numbers and share some of the photos that I was able to capture.
Unlike many other species of birds, Eagles don’t really ‘fly south’ for the winter. As long as they are able to find adequate food in their immediate area, they will generally stay put.
Since fish are their primary food source, they will stay until local rivers, lakes and ponds remain unfrozen. Once these bodies of water freeze, the eagles will move south in search of ‘open water’.
With the deep freeze that occurred in the northeast last week, the lakes and rivers north of me froze first, pushing the eagles into central New Jersey. I first saw them in large numbers on January 19th which was a cold snow day. Cold yes, but the lakes were not yet fully frozen.
On Saturday and Sunday January 20, 21, I probably saw 20-25 eagles on a lake that was probably 75% frozen. Most of their time was spent hanging out on the lake or in nearby trees but I did get to saw several that were fishing.
I went back on Monday January 21 and now the lake was 100% frozen. There were still a few eagles around. I think that I had counted 10 that day. Then when I went back on Tuesday the 22nd, they were gone. In search of food further south.
This was the 2nd time that I experience this phenomena. Being aware of how the cold weather impacted the eagles behavior and getting out with my camera enabled to grab some great photos.
I took this photo during the snow storm on 1/19. I like it in that it shows the environment in which the Bald Eagle must survive.
This is a Juvie. With their thick feathers, the cold and snow is not a problem
Adult coming in low over the frozen lake in search of food.
Adult & Juvie engaged in a stare down
Adult & Juvie working out their differences
Having worked out their differences, the adult & juvie fly off together
I'm not quite sure what this is the remants of. A seagull perhaps?
An adult and sub-adult flying off together
In looking ahead at the weather for the coming week, it looks like some decent weather for me to get out and check on the local eagles.
Until next time...