The Bald Eagles of Llano

As a lot of people in central Texas are aware, there is has been a nesting pair of  Bald Eagles residing about seven miles outside of town annually for the last approximately eleven years or.  The traffic would get tied up frequently along the highway by people wanting to view then, so the Texas Highway Department graded an area along the road to allow parking.  It has been a popular spot through the years for bird watchers and photographers.

Earlier this year the huge nest was blown down in a storm.  Those nests are huge, weighing up to a ton, so that was quite a loss for the eagles.  So, the last report that I have, the pair have returned and are now building a new nest in the same area.  The average size of a nest is somewhere around 9 feet by 12 feet, and weighs over a ton.  By the way, the Bald Eagle usually mate for life, but if one dies, the other may look to find another mate.

I haven’t been down there for several years.  The first time was in February of 2008 when I got these photos.  I dug them out of my archives and reprocessed them.  The nest was about 300 yards from the viewing area.  I had my Canon 500mm f4 lens with a 1.4 teleconverter, making it a 700mm, and still the original images show the eagles as far in the distance.  Just a tiny spot  in the middle of the original photo.  So these pictures are drastically cropped.

I believe that the next three pictures were taken at the original nest.  First photo is the image before I cropped them.  Remember, this is how it looked through my 700mm lens.

Original view of Bald Eagle nest.

Original view of Bald Eagle nest.

Pair of Bald Eagles on nest.

Pair of Bald Eagles on nest in early morning sun.

Bald Eagle leaving nest.

Bald Eagle leaving nest.

Those were the only good photos that I could make good enough to post here.

We went back in October of 2008, and they were back and had built another nest, not far from the original.  Only one bird was on the nest then.  Again here is the original, followed by the cropped version.

Original Eagle on nest

Original Eagle on nest

You can see in the above photo the immense size of their nest.

Bald Eagle on nest

Bald Eagle on nest

That was the only photo that I have from that day that I considered not a throw-away.  By the way, I believe that it is this nest that was destroyed this year by the storm.

Llano is about 200 miles distant from here in San Angelo, so I don’t get down there very often.  But they are the closest opportunity that I have to see a Bald Eagle.

With my new Canon EOS 7D Mark II and my Tamron 150-600mm lens, I feel that I may get some nice images if I can get back down there.  We will see.

15 thoughts on “The Bald Eagles of Llano

  1. We go there every year, Mr Zellar but last year’s visit was the best, in my opinion. When we stopped there, there was a couple there and the man was beating on a drum and chanting something. Curiosity got the best of me, so I approached the woman and asked why he was doing that and she said he was part Indian and was paying homage to the eagles because the tribe he was from believed that eagles were sacred. Can’t remember what tribe he belonged to. I thought that was awesome.

  2. We see bald eagles frequently here. Just a few weeks ago we were heading up to Dundee, MI to the big Cabela’s store and a bald eagle flew right over our windshield! Of course, we were on the expressway, so no way to get over and enjoy the view, but it was still a thrill. Sometimes when we are fishing up north, we have them going to and fro over the lake. My best memory is this time we were just putting our canoe in and we heard a great blue heron having a fit and then it flew up in a tree – turned out the heron had caught a fish and the eagle stole it and went off to the far end of the lake to eat it!! I took photos but that was back before I had a camera with a decent zoom, so they didn’t turn out very well. But that has always been a fun “birding’ memory.

    I really enjoyed your photos, Bob. Thanks for pulling them from your archives for us and I hope you get to go back and see them again and get more photos with your new/better gear!

  3. Yep, I’ve been there several times and tried to take photos of the eaglets with the heads just showing over the edge of the nest. I was not equipped with nearly enough power so I can just enjoy the view I had and the memory but it was thrilling to see one fly off for food or a time out from the little ones. Thanks for the reminder and the photos. hugs

  4. Hi Bob,
    Thanks for sharing the story. I do hope these birds will be able to re-build their mest and have young ones again. Since we’re living close by [Fredericksburg], I’m determined to go up there more frequently and check. If you ever want to come by, just give me a shout. We’d be happy to have you, and I could learn ever so much from you.
    Have a great day,

  5. What a loss of the couple! I’m happy they are building another nest, but there’ll be so much work and toil…I’ve recently heard we might have a nest not too far from where we live, I have to go and see if I can find it. BTW, good pictures you took then as they could be cropped to such a good quality.

    • They do put a lot of work into them. One fall, I watched them and one of them hauled up a tree branch that actually was big enough to be a small tree itself. The pics were with an older camera but I had my big lens.

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