Before I start this posting, I need to go on record as saying I really dislike the reading of human behavior into critter photos. It makes my teeth itch to anthropomorphize wildlife photography. I’m not sure what’s come over me today, though. I guess it must be Valentine’s Day, I can’t help myself.
A bald eagle pair are loyal to each other. Unless its companion dies, or they are unable to reproduce, they mate for life. Bald eagles become old enough to breed when they are four to five years old often returning to the area where they were born to reproduce. Breeding season in Alaska is typically from late March to early April. Courtship involves elaborate aerial displays of chasing, and locking talons in a free fall, but contrary to widespread belief they do not copulate in these airborne rituals.
They build nests (aeries) that are biggest tree-nests of birds in the world, typically being five feet wide and two feet deep. The nests can grow in size as the eagle pair will return adding new building materials to the nest each year. Wildlife photographers need to be very careful when photographing eagles in a nest. If disturbed, the eagles are likely to abandon their nest.
So just what is going on with the above photograph? Only this pair of eagles knows for sure. It’s quite possible that the eagle is simply sunning one of its wings. But for just this moment on Valentine’s Day, I’ll suspend reality and think romantically.
ABOVE: The photo was taken on the Chilkat River in the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve near Haines, Alaska. Photographed using a Nikon D3.Image capture: 1/1250 at f4.0, aperture priority exposure, -1/3EV, ISO 500
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