A Display of Tenacity at Lake Wilhelm

February 07, 2018  •  8 Comments

Elena and I decided to visit Pymatuning and M.K. Goddard State Parks with hopes to photograph Snow Buntings, Rough-legged Hawks, and Bald Eagles. Our first destination of the morning was Pymatuning.  Just so I don't bore you by getting long-winded, I'll jump to 3:00 in the afternoon when we drove up to the shore of Lake Wilhelm with only a few Canada Goose photos and only sightings of the other birds I was after.

We found one of the nesting eagle pair sitting on the ice near a very small patch of open water.  Elena asked if it was the male or female.  I said I couldn't tell until the mate came. There are a few subtle differences between the male and female but the easiest way to tell is when they are together.  Females are larger. 

We watched the lone eagle quite a while as it took several drinks of water and pecked at the ice.

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All of a sudden it began to vocalize.  I asked Elena to watch the sky because either its mate is nearby or an intruder is in its territory. 

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As you can see, it was a juvenile Bald Eagle intruding.  In case you don't know, the nesting adults have been nesting less than 1/4 mile away for years so they are literally defending their territory. The juvenile ignored the warnings of the adult and landed on the ice. Bald EagleBald Eagle

 

Apparently not liking that, within seconds the adult left the ice to chase the juvenile away.

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There were a couple scuffles between the two eagles but they were too far for photos. Eventually, the adult eagle returned to the same spot on the ice.  I am thankful it didn't land further out on the ice.

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After the adult landed, the juvenile, showing its tenacity, followed and landed right behind the adult. Bald EagleBald Eagle

 

The adult began to vocalize again. This time, I believe it was calling for its mate. 

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The juvenile began jousting with the adult.

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The irritated adult began another pursuit.

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So far, we still don't know the gender of this eagle.  But we are about to find out.  I'm going to give it away right now so ladies, get ready to roar.  Hearing the calls of her mate, the FEMALE came soaring out of nowhere.

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She attacked the renegade juvenile.  I guess I got a little excited because most of the fight scene photos were blurry so those photos went into the trash bin.

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Now that the juvenile is up against two fighting eagles, he disappeared across the lake.  After circling the area a couple times the female landed about 10 yards from the male and they began vocalizing with each other.

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After about five minutes, everybody was calmed down so she began to walk towards her mate.

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The way she was fluffing up as she walked toward the male I kinda knew what was going to happen.

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They have been working on their nest daily so I guess it's time to fill it with eggs.

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The entire act lasted about 10 seconds then he used her right wing as a "running board" to step down. That was nice of her.

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After all that excitement, they sat quietly on the ice. 

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It was after 5 o'clock and the pair was still sitting quietly on the ice. Finally, they began to wander around. It was time for one to go to the nest site. 

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The other flew to a clear portion of the ice and gingerly walked around. Apparently, there are dead shad under the thin ice and it could see the fish.

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Below is a sort video of the Bald Eagle picking up bits of food from the ice.  Click the icon in the center to begin the video.

 

With no way to get the fish under the ice, the eagle flew off too.

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Thanks for looking,

Dan


Comments

Willard Hill(non-registered)
A wonderful post, Dan. You really captured a lot of good natural behavior and you captured it well. Excellent video clip also.
Dan(non-registered)
Dan these images are totally awesome. I always enjoy your work, wish I was there that day.
Jeff(non-registered)
An awesome series of photos, great job.
Donna Mohney(non-registered)
Yep, Dan, a photo book would be great! I just love this peek into the eagles' daily
lives.
Mark Burkett(non-registered)
Beautiful pictures Dan - Thank you for sharing
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