Oh Happy Day!

Cindy

Cindy

Jim

Jim

Jim following Cindy.

Jim following Cindy.

It is always a happy day when Bald Eagles pass your way! (Unless you are a trout.)

I was asked again this week about how we can tell Jim from Cindy and Cindy from Jim. I think that our eagles have hearing that is as sharp as their eyesight because Jim and Cindy flew over me today just so I could take the above photos to illustrate the difference.  It was rather comical actually as I had spent several hours at Eastwood MetroPark photographing some very hungry swallows that were darting all around, often passing within 3 feet of me. I found that capturing a decent image of a rapidly moving swallow is not an easy thing to do. I had taken over 700 images, including not only various varieties of the hungry bug-eaters, but also many images of zipping blurs, budding bushes, trees, grass and other things that the birds had just flown in front of. Then I noticed an eagle over Eagle Lake. I became a blur myself as I zipped over to the east end of the park to photograph the big birds.

There I discovered not one eagle but two! Jim and Cindy were soaring together leaving the nest unattended! The temperature was 60 degrees and the day’s fractured sunlight had managed to pull itself together and grow more constant over the past hour so the eaglets were fine, although a bit vulnerable. I reached into my car for my camera and took one picture before they dissolved into the blue of the sky. After about two minutes I was happily surprised to see the pair again and they were flying straight towards me! As I pressed the shutter button of my camera, it beeped and told me that its memory was full! Thinking, “Why now?” I hurriedly retrieved a new memory card and readied myself to snap a picture of the approaching eagles only to hear the dreaded beep again. This time my camera informed me that it’s battery was exhausted! Come on now! I grabbed another battery from my bag and began shooting. Both eagles were now directly overhead about 150 feet high and my camera was singing. Soon Jim headed back to the nest while Cindy continued out over Eastwood Lake. I was able to drive west and stop under the soaring Cindy to take several more shots through the open sunroof of my car. That is when I noticed that several hundred feet above her was another eagle! Apparently they were escorting this bird away from the nest while keeping themselves between the nest and the potential threat. The higher bird appeared to be a juvenile but its altitude and the angle of the sun made it quite difficult to see.

Now I know that my camera is no match for either Roger’s or Ray’s big lens but my images do show the differences quite well even though both Jim and Cindy are beginning to show signs of the wear and tear that comes with the physical demands of parenting eaglets. If you look at Cindy’s image you can clearly see the notch in her white head feathers above her chest as well as the missing feather in the trailing edge of her left wing. Jim has a much straighter line where his white head feathers meet his chest and he also has a faint black stripe on the tip of one tail feather on the right side of his tail. My other image is from last November, It shows their relative size for comparison and also shows how much brighter and cleaner their plumage was during last fall’s courtship.

All in all it was a happy day indeed!

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Published in: on April 26, 2013 at 4:27 am  Comments (2)  

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. These are great pictures and really show the differences between Jim and Cindy.I think I might be able to tell them apart now.I had to laugh at your camera challenges, Jim and Cindy probably saw you and knew they better slow up, and wait until you were ready! The pictures show the beauty of our bald eagles. Thanks Jim. Polly.

  2. They did make a few extra circles above me Polly.


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