This has been quite a year for Mama Eagle, and she deserves to take a long rest in the cottonwood tree in the evening sun. She lost her mate at the end of May and was left to raise and feed a couple of hungry eaglets on her own. What a wonderful job she has done! All of us who follow her and the eagle's nest are very proud of her.
But then on August 13th late in the afternoon, I thought I'd drop by the nest to see if by chance there would be any of the eagles around. It was nice and sunny, so if they were around the lighting would cooperate. Sure enough, one of the juveniles was sitting up in the tree, and as I was taking a few portraits, these showers quickly moved in and then out . . .
. . . So I was able to get pretty close before it turned around, crouched down and then sprung to flight. Very lucky that the evening sun was perfect, and it flew right into the light. The colors and the layers of the feathers are stunning and beautiful. Hard to believe that just a mere 3 and a half months ago it was a little gray furball that could barely keep its head up.
. . . It's a waiting game, and before the leaves come out on the trees it is much easier to spot the adult coming to the nest from afar. But once Spring has sprung, the good news is that the eaglets high up in the nest will usually spot the incoming adult and start squawking pretty loudly, so all of us waiting to capture the moment with our cameras can get ready and then fire off a few frames.
The weeks leading up to this image were very interesting to watch the eaglets as their wings started to fill out, and they began stretching them out and figuring out just what in the heck to do with them. On windier days, they would position themselves into the face of the wind and start flapping and catching a little air at first. And then as they got better and more comfortable, they would really start putting some space between themselves and the nest, especially if they caught a good gust of wind . . .
. . . There have been fly-bys from juvenile eagles and ospreys in the recent past, so better to be safe and stay on guard. Although she doesn't spend as much time in the nest since the eaglets were younger, she will perch on branches near the nest, or keep a watchful eye out from the large cottonwood tree not far to the southeast.