Thursday, February 28, 2019


I’d heard someone had dumped deer carcasses in a field south of the city and it was drawing eagles to feed on the remains.  I headed in that direction early Saturday morning to see for myself.

I found the field easily and immediately spotted an eagle intently watching something in the direction of the carcasses.  I wasn’t sure if the eagle was a male or female since they are so similar in appearance.  Regardless, it was a majestic-looking bird of prey.

The eagle suddenly raised its massive wings, as if preparing for flight.

It lifted off and headed for the pile of deer carcasses.  I guessed it was ready to feed off the deer meat.  Eagles subsist mainly on fish, which it snatches from the water with its talons.  But Eagles are very opportunistic feeders and will feed off whatever is available when they are away from the water.

I quickly saw why the eagle had taken off.  A juvenile eagle, probably in its second year, was approaching the deer carcasses.  The plumage of a juvenile eagle is typically dark brown with white streaking until it reaches maturity, typically in its fifth year.

The adult eagle quickly chased the juvenile away from the carcasses.

The immature eagle persisted, however, and the adult eagle continued to kick the juvenile off the deer carcasses.  I had to wonder if these interactions were between the parent and the child.

The young eagle finally learned its place and the adult went in to feed.

Forehead bloodied, the eagle looked right at me.   Satisfied?

While all the sparing was going on between the adult and the juvenile, a third eagle sat patiently watching the spectacle.  Was this the eagle’s mate?  I wondered because eagles tend to mate for life unless one of the pair dies.

The third eagle finally took off and approached the feeding site.  It landed and joined the first eagle in feeding without a fight.

What an experience this was to watch!  Photography doesn’t get much better than this.

Thursday, February 14, 2019


It has become commonplace to see at least one Snowy Owl when I enter Chums Village near the ballpark.  I’ve seen a male atop a light post, and I’ve seen females at the crown of two buildings, on a radio tower, and on a utility pole. 

So I was pretty confident I would see a Snowy when I drove into the park on Saturday.  I only wondered where it would be.  It didn’t take long as I spotted a female straight ahead on the southeast corner of the Pepsi building. 

As I approached in my car at a snail’s pace with the window down, camera ready, and radio off, she looked down at me.  Even though it wasn’t sunny, she was definitely squinting at me. 

She quickly lost interest in me and turned her head to face south.  I wondered what she was seeing.

My gut told me that the Snowy wasn't going to leave her perch any time soon, so I chanced driving around to the other side of the building.  From there, the owl was just a tiny dot on the building corner.  There were several semi-trailers parked at the back of the building.  I could also see the start of a hill.

I drove a bit further and saw a wide-open field beyond the Pepsi trucks.  It was the perfect habitat for the Snowy to hunt mice and voles.  While today’s owl was no longer within my line of vision, I know they can sit in the same spot for hours scanning a field with their extraordinary vision to draw a bead on their prey.

I returned to the other side of the building to continue watching the Snowy.  She gave me a squinty look down to acknowledge my return, but she wouldn’t open those eyes more.  How I wanted to see those bright-yellow, piercing eyes!

Her interest in me didn’t last long, and the Snowy turned back to watching the field.  This time, I caught a glimpse of the protective eyelid that allows the owl to tolerate the bright sky and hunt during the daytime, unlike other owls that are night hunters.  I waited and watched a while longer for some action to occur, but I quickly learned that this Snowy Owl had more patience than I did.

Thursday, February 7, 2019


During our recent stint with the Polar Vortex, I was driving along Airport Road.  I crossed over the Boardman River and noticed that it was frozen over on both sides of the road.

There was too much traffic to get a picture from Airport Road, so I pulled into Logan Valley, the office park across from Logan’s Landing.  I found a cut-out where I could photograph the river.  It was so frozen over that it blended in with the snowy river banks.

I wondered where all the waterfowl had gone.  I’ve seen them in this area and also along the South End of Boardman Lake, iced over too.  I headed downtown and found a section of the river along Eighth Street which had some open water trails.  I was glad to see so many ducks there; some fishing the waters, others sleeping or preening on the ice shelf.

A variety of duck types were in the area, including this female Mallard, proudly modeling her orange feet!  They go well with her brown coat, don't you think?

A handsome male Mallard was swimming nearby, keeping his eye on me as I moved closer to take his picture.

It was the Common Goldeneye that caught my eye the most.  This striking male stood out with its black and white patterning and its bright yellow eye.

But it’s the white circular puffy patch on its cheek that is the main identifier of the Common Goldeneye.  Another variety, the Barrow’s Goldeneye, has the white facial patch too, but it’s in the shape of a comma.  The Barrow's Goldeneye is mostly found in the Northwest.  Recently, one was spotted by an Audubon member in a Manistee marina.  It’s amazing how far they can travel during migration.

I get a kick out of the goofy look this duck has when photographed head-on as it prepares to dive for its next meal, typically crustaceans and insects.  I know the Boardman has re-opened up after the warm spell last weekend.  Who knows what will happen during the current Winter Storm Warning.