The American Bald Eagle ~ our national symbol and fierce bird of prey!

I have taken hundreds of photographs of eagles perched in trees, surrounded by greenery, and flying, but I’m always hoping to capture a memorable moment where something extraordinary occurs.  Observing such events in person is not only exhilarating, but it helps educate me as to a bird’s nature and habits.  

On a cold and foggy Presidential election-day morning, one such moment fantastically occurred.  We left early to vote.  The line was long and by the time we were on our way home the fog had lifted.  It was now a beautiful, sunny crisp morning and I thought it might be a good time before work to get out along the river and see if the eagles were around.  Well, it was my lucky morning!

As I stood in the woods on a worn dirt path along the river, I positioned myself with camera ready facing an osprey nest on the top of a bald cypress tree just offshore.  I have frequently seen eagles landing there to feed, but none were in sight.  As I stood patiently waiting for any kind of bird activity, all of a sudden I heard a loud familiar swooshing sound right above me. A large American Bald Eagle had been up in the pine trees right behind me the entire time, and it had taken off flying within feet of my head and flew directly out over the river. 

I was hoping it would circle back and land on the nest, and sure enough that’s what it did. To my great surprise the eagle had a rather large eel in its talons! It was feeding time and the eagle couldn’t wait any longer for me to leave.  

It all happened so fast.  It was a powerful moment.  The mighty, majestic eagle’s wings were spread, its sharp talons clasping the helpless eel, deeply penetrating the tough, slippery skin. The eagle settled into the osprey nest and then raised its wings several times to reposition itself.  

The eagle’s yellow beak became covered in bright red blood as the eel met its demise.  The eagle only spent a few minutes enjoying its morning meal, when it decided to take off with the eel in tow (so to speak) to another venue.  

Birders usually remember the time and place of individual photographs taken.  Each one leaves a lasting impression.  This particular collection of photographs will always remain vividly etched in my memory as one of those extraordinary moments that one doesn’t get to see every day.  

It is a gruesome scene, but it features the Bald Eagle as a powerful bird of prey and not just as a majestic, beautiful bird to be admired.  

When we eventually move to Charleston there is a Center for Birds of Prey that will be nearby, where I’ll be able to become a member and learn more about eagles, hawks, and owls.  Eventually I hope to produce a number of paintings of a variety of birds of prey.  

I hope you found this blog interesting and as always I appreciate you taking the time to read my journal.  I also appreciate your interest in my photography and my art.  Thank you!  


One of the joys of being an artist is having the freedom to follow my passion...
— William R. Beebe
What's next? Drawing by William R. Beebe

What's next?

Drawing by William R. Beebe