bald eagle

American Eagle Foundation

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you probably saw where I mentioned during a recent trip to the smokies some friends and I made a trip over to The American Eagle Foundation.  I have visited several bird rehab facilities and exhibits, but The American Eagle Foundation had the most number of birds of any I have been to.  They are doing pretty incredible things there with both rehab and education.

On our tour, they had several birds outside.  As photographers we got excited for this, because a large portion of the time these tours and/or shows are held indoors in some pretty crummy light.  Seeing that a lot of the birds were outside got us excited.  

They probably had 20 or so different birds outside, but let's face it, this is The American Eagle Foundation....we're really here for the eagles.  They probably had 4 or 5 eagles on display of varying ages.  This is Lincoln.  He is a fully mature eagle and an amazing looking bird.  Not only did we spend some time photographing him, but later we got to see him fly within a foot of us and even took our picture with him.

The folks associated with AEF were fantastic!  I'll definitely be going back anytime I head to the smokies.

Equipment list: Nikon D850 and Tamron 100-400 F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD

EXIF Info: Aperture-priority, 1/1,600 sec, f/8, ISO 400, 400mm

Watching an Eagle Hunt

So, if you follow my teaching partner, David Akoubian's, blog he told a story about us getting to watch something pretty amazing one afternoon when we were in Florida.

I'll try my best to summarize...

It was pretty nasty out weather wise.  We were riding along The Black Point Wildlife Drive on The Merritt Island NWR and we noticed a bunch of coots huddled up tightly as if they were on alert.  Then just a few feet from the car, a bald eagle flies right in front of us and makes a dive at the coots.  We quickly jump out of the car and grab our gear.  The wind is howling, but it is at our backs.  The eagle missed the coot initially, but he was one resilient  bird.  He pretty much hovered directly in front of our cameras.  He looked like he was flying on a treadmill.  The wind was so fierce and he was just flying and flying and going nowhere.  He was looking down at the water and every now and again he would swoop down for a closer look.  This went on for what seemed like a lifetime.  We started getting rained on, the wind was blowing the tripods, it was crazy!  Finally this eagle hits the water.  He is in the water about neck deep for probably 10 seconds, then he emerges with a dead coot.  Then he did a fly by right in front of us with the dead coot in his talons.  We never saw the coot come back up.  Best we could figure was the coot drown and the eagle got tired of waiting on him to surface, so he went and got him.  After we got back to a computer we looked at the time stamp on our images and it was over 6 minutes that we got to watch and photograph this eagle hunting, hovering and ultimately catching his prey.  

ISO 800, 600mm, F/6.3 @ 1/500th second

Hover over the image to see camera settings used.  Click the image to view it larger.

This is one of the images from that sequence.  This guy was on a mission, which he accomplished.

Image made with my Sony A77 II and Tamron 150-600mm Lens.  All mounted on a Sirui Tripod and PH-20 Gimbal Head.