Chilkat Eagle Preserve, Haines, Alaska
Of the many shots I took on my eagle "safari" to Haines, Alaska, in December 2012 this is probably my favorite. The eagle was perched in a tree about 75 feet away shortly after sunrise on the last day of the trip. It was bitterly cold, as it had been each morning, and he wasn't going anywhere for a while - at least until it warmed up a bit. But while keeping a lookout for his breakfast, he was also clearly intrigued by the photographer. Many of the eagles in the Chilkat Preserve give photographers an occasional glance, but most appear to be used to having their pictures taken. This one may have been a fairly young adult and seemed more curious than usual. I got several shots of him checking me out from different angles, with often quizzical expressions. In this shot, I find his piercing, direct stare mesmerizing, even slightly unnerving. (Is that how his prey feel before he grabs them?) Since it was still fairly dark and he was in the shade, I had to use a fairly high ISO to get the shot, but the lack of direct light helped accentuate the magnificent but subtle shading and texture of his feathers, which are often lost in bright sun and snow.