Yellowstone: Bald Eagle

This is part of a series of posts about wildlife we saw in Yellowstone National Park during our June vacation in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

The bald eagle is a North American raptor that is the national bird of the USA. Eating mostly fish, the bald eagle lives near large bodies of water with tall trees that will support its large nest. The bald eagle is related to the African fish eagle.  Both are species of the genus haliaeetus (sea eagle). Both have brown bodies and eat fish. The bald eagle isn’t bald — adults have white heads; while adolescents have brown heads.

We saw the above bald eagle perched on a tree on the Gardiner River, just downstream from the bridge in the canyon. This was our first sighting of a wild bald eagle! 🙂 (Seeing a captive bald eagle at a show in Maine is not the same.) We checked out the trees every day as we went by, but never saw another bald eagle here.

A couple days later, we stopped at another collection of cars and tripods in the Lamar Valley, and a guy from Colorado helped us see coyote pups and a grizzly bear (more about that later). He showed us a bald eagle nest through his spotting scope — we looked and saw a dark-headed bird in the nest. He gave us detailed directions to move to a closer turnout and find the nest.

We drove and followed his directions, which were spot on. Here’s the uncropped photo, at 400 mm. The nest is the mass of light-colored sticks toward the upper-left corner. We didn’t see a bird in the nest after we moved.

bald eagle nest in Lamar Valley
bald eagle nest in Lamar Valley (click to enlarge)

On our last day in Yellowstone, we drove through our favorite spots, the Lamar Valley and the Hayden Valley. The Hayden Valley ends at Yellowstone Lake; we crossed the Fishing Bridge and continued to Pelican Creek. While we watched birds sitting in the pond, a guy next to us said he saw a bald eagle flying and landing in a tree. Here’s the uncropped 400 mm photo. The bald eagle is the whitish dot in the center of the photo.

roosting bald eagle at Pelican Creek
roosting bald eagle at Pelican Creek (click to enlarge)

Here’s a crop of the above photo. See the yellow beak, white head, and brown body.

crop of roosting bald eagle at Pelican Creek
crop of roosting bald eagle at Pelican Creek (click to enlarge)

These are our bald eagle photos from Yellowstone. In comparison, African fish eagles were much easier to find in Botswana, where we had guides and more roads to get closer to wildlife.


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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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