Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Immature Bald Eagle

Something amazing happened last Friday. I went to the Fowler Park inlet in Oconomowoc to take pictures of the swans that returned. The swans hold special significance for me because I have many fond memories of watching the lone male swan each summer for several years. Then one year he found a mate and they lived on the inlet for a couple of years. Somehow, it seemed like I always was driving over the bridge as they flew away for the winter. Sadly, two years ago the male swan was found shot and died in the local cemetery that is on the inlet. Last year, there were no swans. So, when I heard that there was a pair of swans on Fowler Lake again, I had to go over there with my camera to check it out. I managed to get some nice shots, which I will share with you at a later date.

While standing in the melting snow, listening to the ducks quack, the geese honk and the red wing blackbird call, I phoned my editor, Bill to see if he would be interested in a stand alone photo for the paper of the swans. He said that he would take a look at them when I got to work later in the day. However, he said that if I would get a picture of an eagle, he would definitely use it. I kind of laughed at the idea of an eagle photo and told him that I would try my best.

Shortly later, a gull began to attack a bird of prey over my head. I quickly lifted my camera and began to shoot. I managed to get some decent frames as the birds clashed above me. They were quickly gone and I didn't think too much of the pictures as I was still focused on getting a good photo of the swans who were more interested in eating than looking pretty.

Cold and tired, I went back home to process the pictures on my computer. As I sorted through them, I noticed that the bird of prey was not a hawk at all. the beak was too chunky. The wings had different feathers. I began to think that perhaps it was an eagle. I sent it to Bill and began to do some research. I came up with the identification of an immature golden eagle. I was so excited as I drove to work.

When I got to my desk, my co-worker complimented me on my eagle picture. I was surprised. I didn't think anyone knew about it. As it turns out, the staff had already called the DNR and asked a biologist there to identify the bird. His verdict: an immature BALD EAGLE!

I was so excited, as was Bill. We ended up running the photo on the front page of Saturday's paper along with a photo that one of the paper's photographers, Kevin Harnack, took. He had taken a picture of a mature Bald Eagle in Otttawa about a month ago.

On Monday, I saw the eagle again as it soared above George Webb's in Oconomowoc. I am looking forward to many more times of seeing this majestic bird.

"A believer is a bird in a cage, a freethinker is an eagle parting the clouds with tireless wing."
--Robert Green Ingersoll

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