Bald Eagles of Loch Raven

Part IV of Bald Eagles of Loch Raven

I have been experimenting with ways to display some of my images that don’t have the attributes of an artistic photo, but do provide an interesting glimpse into wildlife behavior.

Since this blog is morphing into a mixture of a nature journal and a photography blog, I think it is necessary to document and share my observations in some way.

I produced the video below from a collection of stills that I shot of bald eagles engaged in their signature talon-locking behavior.

Unfortunately my line-of-sight was partially obstructed by a tree, and I was on a steep ridge with tenuous footing. Maneuvering for a clear shot wasn’t an option, so I fired off as many pictures as possible.

Despite making the classic rookie photographer mistake of lowering my camera to stare slack-jawed at the eagles, I did manage to come away with an interesting string of photos.

Give the video a quick watch, and we will discuss their talon-locking behavior below. Be sure to click into full screen mode when watching!

There are many ideas about what talon-locking represents. Adult bald eagles do it during courtship, but so do non-breading juveniles.

From reading a variety of sources on the subject, the consensus seems to be that it serves a number of purposes from courtship, to a form of play, and even as a way of settling territorial disputes.

I am fairly confident that the two juveniles in the video are the same two that I photographed squabbling over fish on February 1, 2015. Although there was an aggressive tone to that encounter, I observed them about an hour later perched side by side in a tree.

I jokingly referred to this group of eagles as squadron mates in the video, but my real guess is that the two adults are the parents, and the juveniles are their offspring from different years.

One of the juveniles is much closer to losing his mottled appearance, and having his full complement of white head and tail feathers than the other.

Approximate Location

The eagles were just off of Goose Island, and I was standing midway down the ridge that overlooks that area.

Read Part III of Bald Eagles of Loch Raven

Read Part II of Bald Eagles of Loch Raven

Read Part I of Bald Eagles of Loch Raven

Local readers: see Maps & Notes for viewing tips