Raptors at Blackwater NWR

To see Birds of Prey, or raptors, is exciting to many.  They are beautiful, powerful birds.  And they are also fierce birds with keen eyesight and sharp talons that hunt and kill other animals for food, including small birds, fish, mammals, lizards, and insects.

I was fortunate to capture three species of raptors during my last two  visits at Blackwater NWR.

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Northern Harrier


Sometimes we’re not so lucky with their perch of choice.

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Red-tailed Hawk


He flew to another pole.  Of course, I followed.

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Red-tailed Hawk


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Bald Eagles


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Bald Eagle


It lovelier to see them in their natural habitat setting.

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Bald Eagle


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Bald Eagle


Blackwater NWR has the largest concentration of breeding Bald Eagles on the East Coast, north of Florida.  During the winter, the population soars with transients.

It’s starting that time of year where you will see Eagles at the refuge on any given day.

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Bald Eagles


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This Bald Eagle pair was popular with everyone, they were much closer to the wildlife drive, perched for a couple hours.



Bald Eagles Chit-Chatting


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Bald Eagles on the same perch in their habitat


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Same pair of Bald Eagles at sunset




40 thoughts on “Raptors at Blackwater NWR

  1. Bald eagles are so beautiful! Your shots of them up on trees are quite a sight. Thanks Donna. 🙂

  2. Great pictures Donna! I understand the Tundra swans have returned, so no doubt you will be back there checking them out. I can appreciate your comment about where they land not being as picturesque as a natural setting. When the great blue herons land on our floating dock with all the dock stuff in the way, what could be great poses to photograph are ‘cluttered’ with all the dock stuff. I think they do this intentionally to frustrate me! Thanks for sharing these photos, as always!

    • Thank you Susan! I’ve heard about the TSwans too, hopefully they’ll settle in the areas for the winter. I’ve had the best luck seeing them at Eastern Neck NWR. And you know they do do that intentionally, hoping we’ll leave them alone or don’t see them at all! LOL

  3. We had a lucky yard visit last day of 2017 by a pair of eagles. Otherwise, we almost never see them. But they are making a comeback here in Texas as well. Gorgeous sunset pair!

    • How awesome to end the year with such a gift of beauty to see! It is a thrill to see them, whether once for a moment or all the time. I am glad to hear a Texas comeback is occurring! Thank you, Shannon!

  4. Great images of the raptors you found, especially the northern harrier in flight!

    You’re right about where they choose to perch, they seem to prefer power poles to trees around here, so I’m glad that you were able to find the pair of eagles in a tree rather to go with the photos of the ones on the poles.

    • Thank you Jerry! Yea, power pole shots aren’t so beautiful but the problem is they are usually closer to us for a photo op, allowing us to capture their amazing eyes and detail. So we take them anyway! 😉 But at the refuge, I primarily see them in trees, making for nicer images of their habitat.

  5. Beautiful photos, Donna. That RT looks like he was well aware of your lens upon him.
    I wish I better knew hawks. Aside from the common RT, it’s a wild guess. I don’t have much practice. Sometimes I see Cooper’s in winter, hoping to grab something at the bird feeder, which I don’t like!

    • Thank you Eliza! Oh boy, when I stopped the car, he narrowed his glare right on me, telling me there’s not enough room on this road stretch for the two of us. 😉

      I’m very fascinated with raptors, but I do try not to think about their choice of prey. I’ve watched Eagles grab ducks in mid-flight. I don’t know whether to praise or cry…..

    • Thank you, Jane! As long as there’s distance between us/them, some of the Eagles at the refuge are pretty tolerate of us humans trying to photograph them. The pair in the last photos are resident Eagles & are perched very close to their nest that they will soon be repairing for their upcoming breeding season this winter. Their huge nest is partially visible from the wildlife drive in a loblolly tree. 🙂

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