March 16th

Saturday, March 16th, 2019

I think spring is officially around the corner.

This gorgeous weather we’ve been having, and the weather that’s coming within the next week (60 degrees next weekend!!!) is a sure sign. Yes, we had a snowstorm in April last year, but I’m choosing to be an optimist this year because I’m ready for sunshine.

Anyway, moving on. We had quite a few eagles pass through our neck of the woods last spring around this time, and I’ve been noticing them around again. This morning, I looked out my kitchen window to this beautiful pair relaxing at my neighbor’s. They hung out for an hour after I noticed they were there, and it was such a treat to look out the window and see them sitting there as I went about my morning.

July 6th

Friday, July 6th, 2018

Is it simply coincidence that the Fourth of July weekend brought a family of Bald Eagles to the lake?

I’m not sure, but it’s awesome!

We had a pair of Bald Eagles that must have been nesting on the lake somewhere the past couple of years, but we haven’t seen them much this year. I’ve been missing them. We saw one adult yesterday, but I wasn’t sure if it was a random guy swinging in for a meal, or if it was one of the pair.

Well, this morning Paul and I were enjoying coffee on the patio when this adolescent eagle landed in our neighbor’s tree.

Not only was it super neat to see it that close, but I’m hoping that means the pair is back with it’s “chicks.”

July 5th

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

I love the lake.

Can you be a Minnesotan if you don’t?

Just kidding, friends.

But really, I do love the lake. I love boating, water sports, and all of the wildlife that flock to the water.

We were cruising the lake on the pontoon today when a Bald Eagle cruised in overhead. He dove toward the water, pulled back up with a large Northern, and flew back over us.



June 21st

Thursday, June 21st, 2018

Happy first day of summer!

Not an overly captivating nor technical photo today, but a neat moment of my day.

Paul and I were enjoying breakfast on our front porch this morning when this Bald Eagle flew in, and landed in a neighboring field with breakfast of his own.

We couldn’t see what he had, but it was neat to watch!

March 18th

Sunday, March 18th, 2018

You know earlier this week when I said the wildlife is starting to move around?

I really had no idea just how much.

Owls earlier this week, yesterday with the swans, then this morning I looked out my window and this beauty was sitting in a tree IN MY BACKYARD.


As I just uploaded this, I just realized that one of this guy’s tail feathers is brown. Just out of curiosity, does anyone know how common that is?

Hold on, I’m going to Google it…

Very cool! I knew that Bald Eagles didn’t get their white heads and tails until they are five years old, but I had never look deeply into molting stages by year other than that. This guy is more than likely four years old. Almost completely white, but still had dark spots near his beak above his eyes, and that last brown tail feather. Also, when looking at my featured photo, he still has small amounts of white mottling under the wings.

For those interested in seeing all stages of molting, click here.

I suppose this is why I the pair I’ve been seeing is finding a nesting site, and why their timing may be a bit off for nesting this year; and as to why I haven’t seen them in years previous. Bald Eagles aren’t sexually mature until they’re five years old, so perhaps they are playing house this year – looking for the best nesting site, learning the best places to hunt for food in the area.

This is so fascinating to me! I love learning opportunities like this!

March 15th

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

The local wildlife must be just as excited about warmer weather as we are.

So many birds are starting to come back, and those that brave the winter are out and about much more. The Swans have been moving non-stop all week, the Eagles have been around, I’ve seen ducks, owls, Sandhill Cranes, deer, pheasants, etc. etc.

If we’re being honest, that gives me more motivation for this project.

I love documenting daily life (I think it will come in handy when we have kids one day), but I feel like I haven’t moved forward with new imagery for my business. Although the current landscape isn’t ideal (melting snow leaves room for brown, dead grass), it’s encouraging to see the activity start up again.

Today, Paul, Henna and I were walking back to the farm from the woods after a walk, when Henna turned back and started to bark. Paul and I turned, and the Bald Eagle pair was circling the trees. Sure enough, they landed in one of our big trees on the edge of the woods.


Now, I admit, I don’t have gear envy very much. I tend to just look at what I have and make the best of it. I’m a realist in that regard – the equipment I want, I can’t afford – no need to dwell on it. Maybe one day, but for now, that’s the way it goes. However, today was an excellent example of when I would’ve welcomed a lens with a longer focal length. My 400mm does a lot for me, but for how I shoot, it would be helpful to have a little longer reach.

For those of you who are new to my blog, I tend to have a very reserved, conservative shooting style. I very much believe that humans are pushing out many animals from their habitats, especially in our area, so when I see them find a home on our property (or elsewhere as well), I keep a respectful distance. While others may disagree with me,  I just feel I owe the animals that respect. If I’m invited into their space by them advancing on me (like the Chickadee earlier this week), I’ll take advantage, but I really dislike when my actions cause an animal to move away from me.

So, while this image may seem to you like “you could’ve gotten so much closer, I want to see the whites of their eyes!“, to me, I saw the Eagles begin to shift their weight and look for escape options, so that’s where I stopped. I also want to see them again, so if my actions are perceived as aggressive by them, they may not come back; wildlife photography is relational, and that’s what I love about it.

We have a man who traps in our woods during the winter, mostly for muskrats, raccoons and possums, and he comes to check his traps daily. He walks the same trail each day, not having much interest for anything other than his traps. Because his presence is a daily one, and the same time each day, he’s made the comment that the deer don’t run anymore. They stay bedded down and watch him without much interest; he’s just become part of the wood’s DNA.

I was so inspired by that – to be welcomed into the woods, because the animals know him and recognize him. I think that a lot about my main inspiration, Jim Brandenburg. I knew I always loved art, but when my ceramics teacher was gone one day, and we watched a movie about Jim, I was captivated. He lives near the Boundary Waters, and is always out there. It’s like the animals indulge him, and pose for him.

I strive to be that one day. I don’t need to work for NatGeo, but I would love to end my career with a portfolio full of images I’m truly proud of. A portfolio full of images that have great stories that go along with them.

March 10th

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

I haven’t been this excited in a long time.





Back story: For the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen a Bald Eagle pair in our area. Flying over our house, perched in many big trees around the area (down our road, on Territorial, at Crow Hassan). We don’t get them too often in our area, but it’s not unheard of, so to be honest I didn’t think much about it.

Until the night the possum was in our front yard.

Yep, you read that right.

I was looking out the window the night before we left for Washington DC, and a large something was walking around in the field in our front yard. It was a possum. Now that is bizarre for many reasons. 1.) It was out during daylight, 2. It was close to our house (we later found tracks right alongside our front porch), and 3. It was walking in circles.

Then, this Bald Eagle came out of no where and swooped towards the possum, but ultimately landed right next to it in the field. I’m pretty sure my eyes bugged out of my head. Right there, right in front of me. I had never seen anything like it. So, naturally, what did Courtney do?

You guessed it – I ran for my camera.

But by the time I came back, the Possum was still wandering around, and the Eagle was gone. Our thought was that something must have been wrong with the Possum (rabies, maybe?) for the Eagle to not take it.

That was when I realized that the Eagles must be dedicated to this area – and close – because of how quickly it arrived.

Well then this afternoon, I drove back to the farm and saw a very large bird in one of the big trees back in our woods (see picture above). I pulled out my camera, snapped a quick picture, and zoomed in on the back of my screen to see exactly what kind of bird it was. Sure enough, it was an Eagle.

Luckily, Henna was preoccupied, so I snuck back to the woods hoping for a better look. By the time I got back there, the Eagle was gone (no surprise there). So I enjoyed a walk around the woods anyway.

When I made it back around, I just stood quietly in one spot with my eyes closed, listening to all of the songbirds that are starting to come back. Such a joyous, welcome sound! After a couple minutes, I opened my eyes again, and it just so happened that the Eagle was flying back over me.

I watched it land in a tree not too far from me, and started to make my way that direction. When I was finally able to get close enough that the trees didn’t completely obstruct my view, I noticed something really wonderful – can you see it in this photo?


Folks, I’m no Eagle expert, but that looks like a nest in that tree.

If that is truly what that is, and they do nest and hatch a brood there, it will be the most amazing thing. THE MOST AMAZING THING.


Now, I did do some research on Eagles and nesting, and I’m not totally convinced it’s their primary nest (because of it’s small size), but there’s a chance!

According to my research, Bald Eagles in Southern Minnesota lay eggs/begin nesting mid-February. In Northern Minnesota, they begin April/May time frame. For pairs building new nests, it can take them 1-3 months, so January time frame (Southern MN), and March (Northern MN). I’m not sure what we would be considered, and if we can approximate halfway between those two time tables, but we’d be right on if that were the case. That nest could’ve been there for a few weeks, and I didn’t see it until the Eagle brought attention to it today.

The average size of a Bald Eagle nest is 4 to 5 feet in diameter and 2 to 4 feet deep. If we use the average size of an adult Bald Eagle (their body being 3 feet tall) as an indication from the second image, the nest looks like it could be 2 to 3 feet in diameter and one foot deep.

Now, I realize that this may not end up being their nesting site, but as it stands right now, this by far is the coolest discovery I have made in those woods.

July 18th

Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

This guy was a fun sight to see this evening!

Paul and I were biking back to the barn, and on our way this guy was sitting up on a telephone pole. Suddenly, he spread his wings and soared toward the water and grabbed a fish.

The athleticism and swiftness was incredible to see.

We often see bald eagles flying over the farm, but to have one stop and hang around was a fun experience.

July 16th

Sunday, July 16th, 2017

This was fun to watch today.

These two adolescent Bald Eagles took turns hunting together and wrestling together over the lake this morning.

As loon chicks can’t dive or fly until they are a certain age, they make for easy prey. You know the eagles are around when the loons start calling – sounding the alarm for the pairs that have chicks.

There were no easy meals for the eagles this morning; so they stuck to wrestling.