I never started out to be a wildlife photographer. Photographing wildlife found me. Unless there is new fallen snow, there are not a lot of photographic opportunities in upstate New York in the winter. There are more grey and “dirty” days than pretty snow days. I found a new passion for wildlife when the bald eagle started appearing back in the area that I live in.
I have been photographing this bald eagle pair in their nest since 2016 when the nest was first discovered. They created quite a stir in the little rural area that I live. The chance to see a nesting pair of Eagles was more than a “sight to see”. Eagles in Upstate NY have made a comeback. DDT almost eliminated the eagles. In 1960 there was only one nesting pair. The Federal Government passed the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and New York followed suit with New York’s Endangered Species Program in 1976. There are an estimated 323 breeding pairs of eagles in New York State in 2017.
A Bald Eagle mates for life. They usually return to the same nest each year. Both the father and the mother play a role in incubating the eggs. The female is the larger Eagle. She generally sits on the eggs throughout the evening. The male will be back each morning with food. Due to the locality of nearby rivers and canals meals were often a fish dinner.
The pictures below are the Bald Eagles with their first photographed eaglets. There were three eggs and all three eaglets survived. Both parents took turns feeding the eaglets. I spent days watching and photographing them – always from a safe distance. The nest is unique in that it is high in a tree as you would expect. However, from a trail, you can see the nest eye level. The nest is about 400 yards away so safe enough that photographing them did not disturb the eagles in their natural environment. Without binoculars or a long camera lens, you would not have been able to see the eaglets.
In 2017, the bald eagle pair again returned to their nest and laid eggs. Between March 12-15 winter storm Stella hit our area. Up to 3 feet of snow fell in a 12 hour time frame. After the storm the nest was buried in snow. I was not sure even the adults survived. I checked back after a few more days. There was still several inches of snow in the nest, but sure enough, the mother eagle was still on the nest incubating her eggs. We had trouble keeping our driveway clear with 3 inches of snow falling per hour. I can’t even imagine what the Eagles endured. Unfortunately, none of the eggs hatched last year. All the snow was too much for the eggs.
Spring 2018 came and the Eagles were back in the nest. This year produced several winter storms, but the one in early March came with extremely high winds. Numerous trees and power outages occurred. The eagle’s nest blew out of the tree. Although the DEC was contacted, the fall is so far down that there is no way the eggs survived. The adult pair was spotted near the tree where their nest had been.
I hope the eagles rebuild their nest. There are numerous other eagles by the Mohawk River and I will still photograph them, but the nest was something special and I will miss it.
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Debbi Marquette Photography is located in Upstate New York at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. Debbi Marquette is a fine art travel photographer specializing in artistic, authentic, and memorable landscape and wildlife photography. As a professional photographer, Debbi travels frequently, lives near the mountains and constantly has a camera in her hand to capture photographs so others can see the beauty of our world.
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