Memorial Day Special: Bald Eagles in Yellowstone

First off, thank you to all the veterans, active military and those that have lost their lives in service to our country. Since my work mainly focuses on animals I have to add in this link that has incredible pictures of war dogs.  They are amazing!  I hope the new trend continues where they are allowed to go home with their handlers after their service is finished, they deserve a good retirement.

 Continuing on with the animals of Yellowstone series I thought bald eagles would be appropriate to post about on Memorial Day. We saw quite a few while we were there.

This was the first one we saw, we were driving out of the park and a huge line of cars was stopped and so many people had their cameras out. I thought it had to be a wolf or bear with that many people gawking. When I asked the guy next to me he pointed to a bald eagle with a huge smile on his face. Just about everyone out there had the same smile, I guess our national bird has that impact on people!

A bald eagle sits in trees destroyed by the 1988 Yellowstone fire

I really liked how he was silhouetted against the sky in such an eerie landscape with the remnant trees from the fire. It’s also a good scale for how large bald eagles are. I have dubbed this picture “The Sentinel” and it is one of my favorites. (Yes, it is available in my Etsy shop).                                         

Here is is again without the dramatic lighting:

 On the third day we were in Montana my husband and I went to the Red Rocks Lake National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Montana. It has been a refuge since 1923 (!) and it really beautiful, just near the Continental divide. We hardly saw anyone driving through, I guess everyone goes to Yellowstone instead. There are loops to drive on as in Yellowstone and we got out and walked around a bit too. There is a mix of valleys, hills and the mountains are all around. I guess if you go early enough moose are very common. We saw mule deer, pronghorns and beefalo (cows + buffalo = beefalo, they are domestic and wow are they huge!)  but no moose. Maybe next time. A small lake is nestled in there too, we hiked around part of it and saw free range cattle, lots of hawks, bear tracks (bigger than my hand!)  and a bald eagle.

Anyway, this guy circled us for a few minutes and was kind enough to let me get a few pictures. Look at that huge wingspan! Pteranodon indeed. (I’m not that far off, birds are really just little dinosaurs! Read Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin and you will never look at birds the same way again either).

This spring in Iowa (a really warm spring, I won’t get that lucky again weather-wise) we had a lot of bald eagles migrate through near George Wyth State Park in Cedar Falls. They were diving and nesting right near the highway and I would see them every day driving by. I decided to take the pups on a walk to see them. Well, we only saw one in a tree. It was a juvenile, you can just see the white patches beginning to come in on her head.

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~ by olivetto on May 28, 2012.

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