Trumpeter Swans, Bald Eagles & More

I’ve never been disappointed with my day trips to Loess Bluffs. Each offers different photo ops and surprises. I always get there before sunrise to catch the soft glow of the morning sun. However my first surprise came before sunrise.

For about 6 to 8 minutes I watched tens of thousands of these black birds flying by in a tube formation like you might have seen on a wild bird documentary.  It was an awesome sight to see.

I didn’t hear many geese which was a little unusual. Normally there are thousands of them but…..

What I did hear and see were these.

Yes, they are Trumpeter Swans! I don’t remember seeing as many all at one time. Monday’s survey count was 1,303 of them. You can tell by the dark and somewhat reddish background this photo was taken just as the sun was coming up.

The next surprise happened just as the sun broke the horizon.  This bird was causing quite a stir with its low passes as it was hunting.

It’s a Northern Harrier Hawk. They have facial disks much like owls. It’s believed that it helps them hear better. They use both their keen eyesight and their hearing to locate and catch their prey.

Of course there are Bald Eagles. By the Survey taken Monday, there were 167 immature and 44 adults. I’ll bet, I saw at least half of them if not more. It was great!

This is an immature Bald Eagle. Their heads and tail do not turn white until they are 4 to 5 years of age.

It’s always good to get them in flight but to watch them interact with one another is even better.

The adult and the left was eating a duck when the immature flew in next to it.  I thought I might see a little skirmish but the adult quickly finished its meal. It then made this gesture as if to say, “So There!”

It’s a real treat to watch them interact with each other when there’s food to be had.


As you can see below, sometime they don’t give up too easily.

The following photo is the one I like best.


Then, as the light got better, the swans looked even more beautiful.


As you can see, the one on the right has been tagged.

Of course, those were not the only birds I saw.

How can you resist a red Norther Cardinal with a blue background?

I’m not 100% positive but I think this is a female Red-winged Blackbird.

A White-breasted Nuthatch

You’ve just got to photograph Red-tailed Hawks when you can!

The following Northern Harrier was just too accommodating. It continued to hunt close to me.


Ok, so I watched this eagle for an hour and twenty minutes hoping it would fly. I wanted to photograph it close-up on the wing. 

As you can see below, it was well worth the wait…..


I was not disappointed!

It was a day filled with surprises but you know the biggest surprise of all was that I did not see a single mammal the entire day. Now, that is a first!  But you know what?  It was a great day for photographing the birds all the same.

I had a great time and hope you enjoyed the trip as well.

Thanks for coming by!