A Family Affair: Bald Eagles on the move!
Day 5 with the Bald Eagle Family in Durango, Colorado was a bit of a mixed bag of feelings for me. When I first showed up, I realized there was no Mom or Dad just hanging out like usual. So, I kept driving to the other side of the trees so I can see the nest. Nothing, no little guys hanging out on branches, no squawking coming from the trees, and it didn’t seem like there was any babies hanging out in the nest. I knew they were getting ready to fly, as the last time I was there, they were all over the tree flapping wings and talking to each other. I tried to get out to see them before this day, but weather and other commitments kept me away. All was not lost though, as I sat and waited to see if they would come back, the littlest baby popped up from the nest.Perched on the side of the nest, he began to cry out. For awhile, I sat there and photographed him and didn’t here any of the other eagles respond. I started to worry because I know that usually not all of the babies make it out of the nest, some do, but don’t last very long out in nature. This is nature’s fight of the fittest to its truest form. I have witnessed the biggest baby stealing food from the other two and even from his Mom, nature knows no boundaries I guess. Still though, three babies is a testament to this adult couple as most couples struggle with two and even then one is all that makes it. At this point I have no idea if he will make it or if the other two have even made it out of the nest, the suspense was killing me. I sat for a little bit longer only to hear his calls continue to go unanswered. And then out of nowhere, I heard a distinct but faint call coming from the valley across from the nest of the eagles. I was hoping he would take off and join his family and I would be able to get some shots of his first flight, but he sat there and had a very long conversation with whoever was responding to him in the distance. I imagine it went something like this:Baby3: I’m scared!Adult: Use the wind!Baby3: It’s a long way down!Baby1: Come on buddy you can do it!Adult: Just flap your wings and the rest will take care of itself.Baby3: I’m too scared!Now, I don’t speak eagle but they did talk for awhile and maybe it was just in my head but it definitely sounded like the others were trying to encourage him along. As I waited for him to take that first dive into the abyss, I started getting a little bored.I have been asked many times what I do while waiting for that perfect moment or the right light, well probably what every photographer does, take pictures. You never know when the right shot is going appear and one of my favorite lessons taught to me early on in my photography career was, “Turn Around,” you never know what is behind until you see it. So in honor of my first photography lesson here are some what I like to call “Turn Arounds.”After I was done, with my “Turn Arounds” I went back to the eagles nest to see if the little guy was still there. Quickly, I learned why wildlife photographers probably don’t do many “Turn Around” shots…. he was gone! All the squawking had stopped and he was nowhere in site. I left that night with the same mixed bag of feelings I had when I showed up. Did he try and fly and failed? Did he make it to his family in the distance? To many questions and no answers. But as I left, nature provided a scene that would give me hope!
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