While out running errands on a sunny day in early January, Laurie Meagher Bird, 50, of Plymouth came across a sight that blew her away. In a clump of trees set far back from the road, at least a dozen bald eagles perched on bare limbs, some sitting just feet from each other.
“My heart was racing,” said Bird of the event. “I mean, how often do you see that many at once?”
A few years ago, Bird started becoming interested in wildlife and landscape photography and purchased a Canon 70D camera. Fortunately, she had thought to bring the camera with her that day, just in case she came across something interesting.
Bird posted the resulting photos on Facebook, which is where I came across them. Intrigued, I contacted Bird to ask her if I could share some of the photos on my blog, as well as her story about stumbling across so many eagles. She graciously agreed.
As it turns out, she didn’t know what she was looking at right away.
“I saw a clump of trees in a field and noticed something in one of the trees,” she said. “I thought maybe it was a falcon or hawk.”
So she turned her car around, pulled over and got her camera out to zoom in on the dark shape in the tree with her 50-250mm lens. She realized it was a juvenile bald eagle, which are often mistaken for other raptors from afar because they’re completely dark. It’s only when an bald eagle becomes about five years old that it develops its adult plumage, with telltale white feathers on its head and tail.
Then, sitting in the tree nearby, Bird spotted an adult bald eagle.
“I was excited to see them both, and I took a few shots, but they weren’t the greatest,” she said. “Too far away, really.”
She then noticed another large bird flying in the distance, and following it with her camera, she came to a tree with four or five more eagles. Then she saw another tree adorned with even more eagles.
“I was floored by the amount,” she said. “Even more of them just sitting there and flying above. They were just everywhere.”
“I’ve spent the better part of two years trying to just catch the two we have in Plymouth at the pond in a tree so I could take photos of them,” she said. “And here they were, too many to count.”
Bird said she doesn’t know why there were so many eagles in that spot, but it’s probably safe to say that there was some sort of food source that attracted them to that spot. Bald eagles don’t flock to fly or mate, but there have been plenty of stories about them gathering in an area where there’s plentiful food.
Here are just a few:
- “Dozens of bald eagles flock to West Springfield“… for dying fish
- A YouTube video of eagles “invading” a parking lot in Alaska… for garbage bags of fish product
- Bald eagles flock to a river in Alaska … for salmon
While Bird was curious about why the eagles were there, she kept her distance. The eagles were on private property, she said, and she certainly doesn’t condone trespassing for the sake of a photo opportunity. She stayed on the side of the road to photograph the birds. And, out of respect for the landowner and the eagles, Bird is not comfortable divulging the location of the photos, aside from it being in central Maine.
Even if it was public land, Bird said, she wouldn’t want to disturb the eagles by walking too close.
“I stood roadside so I wouldn’t bother them,” she said. “The last thing I wanted to do was frighten them. There was quite a distance between us.”
Bird started a local business Facebook page called “Bird’s Eye View” in 2013 as a place to share her photography, and that’s where she posted the eagle photos. The public is welcome to visit and “like” the page at www.facebook.com/Birds-Eye-View-1402163526682341.
This winter, she’s been focusing on photographing birds in flight.
“I love how their wings look frozen in time,” she said.
Bird enjoys the challenges she finds in outdoor photography, and she also sees the activity as a type of therapy, something to distract her from troubles in life.
“When you concentrate on taking photos, there’s a lot to take into consideration — lighting, ISO, shutter speeds. You literally have a hard time thinking of much else. So it’s a wonderful outlet for me,” she said. “The feeling you get when you nail a shot that you were after and rush home to get it up on the computer to edit or view it, it’s like Christmas for me.”
I understand what Bird is talking about, and I’d like to thank her for sharing a bit of that excitement with me for this blog post.