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Where We Live by John Silveira and Richard Blunt. Photos and commentary from Oregon and New England.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.

Bald eagles of Oregon, Part 1

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

I was talking with a friend, Ruth Dixon, over the weekend. I told her about a bald eagle I’d photographed that morning, within two miles of where she lives. She said, “I see them all the time. They hang out in the trees beside the River (meaning the Rogue). Sometimes I think, ‘I’m not like the tourists who slam on their brakes because they’ve never seen one before.’ Then I ask myself, ‘What am I saying? I should feel privileged to be able to see things like that.’ But you know how it is? I live here; I see them all the time.”

And that’s how I feel, now: privileged. I’ve never lived anywhere where I can step outside and see deer grazing fifty feet from my front door, or watch ospreys pulling fish out of a river, or see eagles soaring overhead.

Several weeks ago, my friend, Earl Yager, called me to say there was an eagle at the Port of Gold Beach and it was feeding on something.

I was there within minutes. As I recall, I was still wearing my slippers. But Earl was wrong; there were three eagles at the Port, an adult and two juveniles. What they were feeding on was a dead seal.

This is where I live.

These photos were shot with my old Canon 60D using my EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens. All are crops and I processed the first four to make them sharper.

When I arrived, the adult bald eagle was feeding on the carcass of a seal. One of the two juvenile eagles patiently waited, nearby.

Shutter speed 1/640     f-stop 8     ISO 250     focal length 400mm


Pretty soon, turkey vultures, ravens, and seagulls joined the juvenile eagles. Though some inched closer, none dared tangle with the eagle while it ate.

Shutter speed 1/500     f-stop 8     ISO 200     focal length 400mm


I watched and took photos for almost an hour while the tide inexorably rose, submerging more and more of the carcass. Suddenly, the eagle braced itself on the gravel bar and, using its powerful legs and the beat of its wings, it dragged more of the seal out of the water.

Shutter speed 1/640     f-stop 8     ISO 250     focal length 400mm


Though the eagle weighed a dozen pounds at most, it was able able to drag a body that weighed much more.

Shutter speed 1/500     f-stop 8     ISO 200     focal length 400mm


I moved to a new position, for better photos, and when the adult had had its feed, it flew further down the beach and this juvenile moved in. As the tide rose, the young bird, tried to pull the carcass out of the water, but it wasn't strong enough and, eventually, the tide overtook it and the remains of the seal's body were submerged. When I returned at low tide, the carcass was gone.

Shutter speed 1/640     f-stop 8     ISO 160     focal length 400mm

3 Responses to “Bald eagles of Oregon, Part 1”

  1. Sammi Says:

    This definitely tells a story. The commentary is just supplemental as I feel the photos say it perfectly well on their own, Good choice for a captivating entry. You have me hooked!

  2. hanza Says:

    When I was stationed on Adak in the Aleutians, every summer we would have 100s of eagles show up, and stay until the weather changed in the fall.

    There were so many that after the first couple had arrived for the summer season they were pretty much ho-hum.

    He is a link to a live eagle nest cam in Iowa. It is up 24/7 and at night it goes to infra-red.

  3. Nancy Says:

    I worked in Kodiak for a couple winters and the eagles would set on the flat rook of the building I worked in. Sometimes a dozen would be there. I live close to the Mississippi river now and see them all the time. Some of God’s best work.



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