Bald Eagle: Mother and Chick

Young eaglet looks on as Mother Eagle flies away from the nest. We recognize the young eaglet by his dark feathered head and body, but he is nearly the size of an adult in just 8-10 weeks. Typically, he will learn to fly at 11 weeks, but in the meantime he relies on his parents to bring food to the nest. As mother bird flies from the nest in the morning light, youngster awaits her return.

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Mother Eagle will be back soon with fresh fish to eat, but until then the sole surviving eaglet awaits her return in the nest. Naples, Florida 2020.

At this bald eagle nest near Saint Leo’s Catholic Church in Naples, Florida, the fledgling has not yet flown from the nest. However, he has spread his large wings and practiced flapping them, jumping in place. At this stage, mother eagle leaves “junior” alone for some time while she goes out hunting for food.

Egret in Profile

Wildlife doesn’t pose, and it doesn’t wait for you. To become a successful wildlife photographer, you need to be prepared, have some knowledge of animal behavior, be prepared and anticipate what may happen next. (These rules also apply to candid photography of people too!)

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Early Monday morning, this Great White Egret was fishing in this golf course lake. I was following his movements with my camera set at 1/1000 second and 600mm lens focused, poised for the moment that the bird stretched his wings. I was happy with the backlighting of the sun.

The other axiom I say to myself often is: the more often you go out, the luckier you get. Put another way, if you stay home, you won’t get the shot, for sure!

Cleared for Take-Off

Watching and waiting for this Great White Egret to take off, I was rewarded by this sighting of outstretched white wings. With my Nikon camera shutter set at 1/1000 second, I was prepared to capture this image to share with you.

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Early morning sun shines through the white egrets wing feathers, as the egret lifts off from the littoral plants.

Since I also set my Nikon D800 on “continuous-high,” I have two more great frames to share. You can help me decide which one is best. I will submit one or two of these photos to the Royal Poinciana Members’ Photography Contest. The submitted photos have to be shot on the property.

Speaking of Woodpeckers

The ecosystem of Southwest Florida also supports lots of Pileated Woodpeckers, and we spotted this one on an early morning tour of our golf course. I love this one with its brilliant red crown and interesting profile.

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Pileated woodpecker makes a brief stop at the top of this pine tree, turning his head from side to side as if listening for his mate.

Next up are my newest images of the Great White Egret. Follow this blog for views of sunlit white feathers for the next several days.

What the Red-Bellied Woodpecker said

While I was leaving Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary at 5pm, I witnessed a dramatic ambush. A Red-Shouldered Hawk swooped into the woods and nearly took out a quick moving Red-Bellied woodpecker. As the hawk flew in and just as quickly flew away, the woodpecker, traumatized by its near-death experience, shrieked and jumped around frantically for several minutes. I recognized the behavior as a way of communicating, “HOLY —-. That hawk almost KILLED me!!!”

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Red-Bellied Woodpecker has just survived an ambush by a Red-Shouldered Hawk in Naples, FL, 2020. Observing wildlife behavior is always a learning experience.

I set up my tripod as quickly as I could and made some images of the woodpecker as he momentarily rested on the trunk of this tree. When I got home to examine my photos, I was able to identify the type of bird he was. While the hawk’s behavior is part of Nature’s food chain, I could relate to the anxiety of the little woodpecker. That was one scary experience!

Mother and Child: Great Horned Owls

I identify myself as a mother more than any other role, so a glimpse of mother and child in the animal kingdom is a moment with special resonance for me. While photographing this majestic Great Horned Owl, I noticed something fuzzy moving near the owl. Hmmm. I kept my finger on the camera trigger, hoping to capture a moment when the owlet would peer over the edge of the nest.

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Looking like a cuddly stuffed animal, the owlet shows us its head and eyes for a hot second, while mother owl keeps a protective eye out for any predators.

Remember the expression, “Mothers need eyes in the back of their heads?” I think mother owl would agree, as she keeps one eye on my dog Sophie.

Eyes of a Great Horned Owl

My first photographs of the Great Horned Owl feature exciting eye contact. Do you know who I have to thank for that? My dog! This fantastic owl was guarding its nest and keeping a watchful eye on my Australian Shepherd, who was patiently waiting by my side. I didn’t realize that Sophie would play an active role in my photo shoot today!

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Terrific eye contact with this attentive Great Horned Owl, guarding its nest. Naples, Florida 1/31/2020.

In the next photo, the morning sun is nicely lighting the owl about 70 feet high in the pine tree. Since the owl had to be relocated by the Southwest Conservancy, the nest consists of a man-made wicker basket (if you were wondering). That little fluff ball you see beneath the adult owl is a baby owlet! I noticed it moving. Stay tuned for my next blog where you will catch an even better glimpse of the owlet.

#greathornedowl, #owl, #nest, #owlsnest, #naplesfl, #guarding, #birdphotography
Great Horned Owl did not take its eyes off my dog. Not to worry, she can’t climb trees. Naples, FL 1/31/2020.

Thanks to Brian Beckner of Native Bird Boxes for telling me about the nest’s location. My next blog will share the best photo of this parent and baby Great Horned Owl. Oh, the thrills of bird watching!