All Dressed Up and Not a Hair … Urr, Feather … Out of Place

(This post originally published in December 2010)

I spent 2 1/2 days last week photographing at the Squaw Creek NWR, located in northwest Missouri. The main attraction there were migrating Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator), and Snow Geese (Chen caerulescens). Shortly after we arrived at the refuge, we took a quick tour, via the refuge’s 10-mile auto tour route, to see what we could see and where things were located. Then, we began our second trip around the refuge, this time driving more slowly and stopping at spots where wildlife was either abundant or active.

This refuge is known for the migrating bald eagles and has an annual “Eagle Days” program on the first weekend of December. Besides an inside program with videos and live bald eagles, refuge personnel and state conservation agents are everywhere, assisting visitors in spotting bald eagles on the refuge. Since the refuge gets overwhelmed with visitors during the weekend, we had decided to go up early and do some photography before the crowds arrived. As we drove around, we came upon a Bald Eagle that was busy preening, seemingly preparing for the upcoming visitors.

In this first image the bald eagle seems to be searching out a bad feather:

Bald Eagle preening

 

In this next image, the bad one is found and pulled free:

Bald Eagle with feather in his beak

In this final image, the eagle lets the feather fall and slowly floats to the ground:

Bald Eagle pulls feather out of his chest


I might add that during our trip to the refuge, another Arctic “clipper” came through the area. This brought in even more birds to the refuge. On Thursday, refuge personnel conducted an updated bird count for the weekend eagle program. The updated counts yielded 121 Bald Eagles, 119 Trumpeter Swans (a new refuge record!) and 390,000 Snow Geese. Don’t ya just love it when everything works in your advantage!

Stay tuned, much more to come from this wonderful trip ….

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Posted in 2010, 2013, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Nature Photography
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  • You capture wildlife behavior like now other, Jim! Super images of this majestic eagle!

  • Jim did you know that if you went over and picked up that feather and brought it home that you would be committing a federal crime? I found that out when I found a Barred Owl that had been hit by a car last Fall and I wanted to get it mounted. Unless your a learning institution or government agency you can’t possess any part of a bird of prey. I see the reason they passed the law in the first place but to not have exceptions like a shed feather or road kill seems ridiculous.

  • Yes, and punishable with a stiff fine, and possibly residence in the “big house”. I think the reason of no exception is due to not being able to prove where/how you got it. But yes, it does seem a bit overkill.