Today’s image captures a Bald Eagle in mid-call, its beak open and neck extended. I was fortunate to photograph this majestic bird at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma, where it perched regally atop a towering tree. As I watched it survey its domain, the eagle suddenly broke the silence with a high-pitched, whistling cry that pierced the crisp autumn air.

The Call of the Bald Eagle

The Call of the Bald Eagle

What was the purpose of this call? Bald Eagles make a variety of vocalizations for different reasons. This particular series of piping whistles may have been a contact call to a fellow eagle I didn’t see. Eagles also vocalize to defend their territory, especially during nesting season. Another possibility is that this eagle was sounding an alarm at the distant gunfire from waterfowl hunting. Bald Eagles have sensitive hearing and often react to loud man-made noises.

Whatever the intent behind this call, it was a privilege to observe this iconic bird engage in natural behavior. The eagle’s surprisingly weak, high-pitched squeals are a far cry from the bone-chilling screeches heard in movies. Those dramatic calls actually belong to the Red-tailed Hawk! Bald Eagles make gentler, more delicate sounds to communicate with each other, interact with their environment, and go about their daily business. The variety and complexity of their vocalizations reflect the rich social lives of these majestic birds.

Getting to witness and capture one of nature’s great avian symbols in its element, doing what comes naturally, is a photographer’s dream. Days like today reaffirm my passion for capturing wildlife moments and sharing the true essence of these spectacular creatures. To hear this Bald Eagle’s call yourself, click here for a video clip I made. Enjoy this rare glimpse into the world of our national bird!

My Video Of This Eagle and Its Call:

Image Information:

  • Date: 11/12/23
  • Time: 08:01 AM
  • Camera: Canon EOS R7
  • Lens: EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM
  • ISO: 1000 (Auto)
  • Aperture: 5.6
  • Shutter: 1/800
  • Exp. Comp.: 0
  • Lens (mm): 400
  • Program Mode: Manual

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