One crisp winter morning at Oklahoma’s Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, I spotted a beautiful young Bald Eagle perched on a bare tree limb just as the sun peaked over the eastern horizon. This refuge located along the Arkansas River is an excellent place to view these regal birds in December.

Bald Eagle On Dead Limb

Bald Eagle On Dead Limb

As early morning light washed over the wetlands, I watched this Eagle intently from inside my truck. It had white and brown feathers, a yellow beak with dark blotches, and a part white head identifying it as a juvenile. The raptor scanned the terrain below, perhaps for one final meal before settling down to roost midday.

With my camera gear stowed atop a beanbag and pointed out the truck’s open window, I was able to photograph the majestic bird as the rising sun illuminated its figure just after sunrise. The Eagle remained perched as I captured images of it perched on the bare branch. I feel fortunate to have documented this young Eagle at the cusp of maturity bathed in dawn’s glow.

The refuge protects Bald Eagles during this critical life stage as they learn to hunt solo. I hope to return in a few years to photograph this very eagle adorned in the full white head and tail feathers it earns through maturity. For now I will treasure images capturing the regal essence of this noble juvenile raptor just after sunrise.


  • Camera: Canon EOS 7D
  • Lens: Canon EF 500 mm f/4L IS


  • Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
  • Date & Time Taken: December 17, 2011 (09:10 A.M.)
  • Aperture Priority
  • Aperture: f5.0
  • Shutter speed: 1/1600 sec. (as determined by the camera)
  • ISO: 640
  • Exposure Compensation: 0
  • Focal Length: 500 mm