I got a question on the previous post asking why I had so many young eagles posted. They wanted to know if they were my best shots as opposed to those of adult eagles. I guess I need to explain what is the difference so you to can tell the approximate age of the eagles pictured. Both young and old eagles are very large, weighing about 8-15 pounds and the adults stand approximately three feet tall.
Adults have yellow feet and bills. The youngsters have dark talons and bill. Babies are whitish fluff balls.
Adult eagles are brown, and immature eagles are even darker. The adults have white heads and tail feathers, the immature eagles do not until approaching adulthood.
Eagle only about two years old above. Adult below.
Size is different too. Immature eagles look sized a lot like the Black Vultures or even large hawks. They get larger as they get older. When they reach five years old they get their white head and tail. When about four, the head is not fully white and looks rather dingy white. Oh, and female eagles are a bit larger than their male counterparts. When full-grown, the eagles have a six-foot wingspan.
As to why so many young eagles, in June, and by August the young have learned to hunt and fish on their own. The dam provides a huge supply of fish when the turbines are running. The youngsters learn how, and how large a fish to catch.
I saw many young eagles fumble their catch by getting too large a fish. I also saw some misjudge the descent and accidentally land in the water. Did you know they can swim? They do not yet have the finesse of the older eagles.
They also learn to steal a meal from other more capable eagles. This is valuable because as grown eagles, they steal food from many birds and even some mammals. Don’t you just love that our national emblem is a bully and thief? Not to mention a garbage picker too. You often see them picking at dead animals also.
On Nature and Wildlife Pics, A Guide to Viewing Bald Eagles at Conowingo Dam.
Since it was asked, the professional photographers prefer to photograph young eagles. Why you ask? Because the adults present an exposure challenge with that white head. I will tell you all about that on Nature and Wildlife Pics. Also, the young eagles are more active, flying in groups and sparring with each other. They also have a bigger appetite, so fish more often. Other words, they put on a better show for the photographers.
If you would like to know what I learned about photographing eagles, see the upcoming post on Nature and Wildlife Pics. Here on GWGT next, my impressions of both seeing so much wildlife and damming the large (447 miles) river.