Eagles Migration Photography: Where and When to Capture the Majestic Birds

Posted on July 28, 2023

Hello, and thank you for visiting Capture Wild Alaska! As someone who enjoys photographing wild animals, it gives me great pleasure to be able to show you the magnificent eagles that inhabit Alaska. In this blog, I will serve as your guide to getting breathtaking photographs of these amazing birds while they are on their incredible migration. Join me on this trip of a lifetime, and let's make it memorable!

Understanding Eagle Migration

Eagle migration is a remarkable natural phenomenon driven by the need to find suitable food sources and breeding grounds. These majestic birds embark on long journeys, spanning thousands of miles, to navigate changing seasons and climates.

Various eagle species are known for their migratory habits, each with unique characteristics. For instance, the Bald Eagle, the national bird of the United States, undertakes migratory flights, particularly in northern regions, to find open waters during colder months. On the other hand, the Golden Eagle is a renowned long-distance migrant, covering vast distances as it searches for prey in diverse landscapes.

Several factors influence the timing and routes of eagle migration. One of the primary drivers is food availability. As temperatures drop and bodies of water freeze, eagles move to more temperate regions to find accessible prey. Additionally, daylight plays a crucial role; eagles rely on the lengthening or shortening of days as cues for their migration. The magnetic field of the Earth also guides them during their journeys.

Best Locations for Eagle Photography

Eagle migration photography offers a chance to capture awe-inspiring moments, and there are several top destinations around the world that provide incredible opportunities.

Alaska, USA, is a prominent location known for its Bald Eagle congregation along the Chilkat River. The abundance of salmon attracts these majestic birds, offering photographers a spectacular display of aerial prowess and fishing skills. However, challenging weather conditions and remote locations can be obstacles.

The Scottish Highlands are home to Golden Eagles, offering a chance to capture these birds against the stunning backdrop of rugged landscapes. Patience is key in this region, as spotting opportunities might require more time and effort.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's Drina River is renowned for its White-tailed Eagles. The eagles' proximity to fishermen's huts provides photographers with unique close-up opportunities for their shots.

Timing and Seasons for Eagle Photography

Understanding the seasonal patterns of eagle migration is crucial for successful photography trips. In North America, for example, Bald Eagles typically migrate south during the late fall and return north in the early spring. Similarly, Golden Eagles often migrate to their breeding grounds during the late winter and early spring.

Factors like food availability, climate, and breeding instincts influence the timing of eagle movements. In colder regions, eagles migrate to escape freezing temperatures and find open waters with abundant food. Breeding eagles also migrate to establish territories and seek suitable mates.

To capture eagles in action, photographers should plan their trips during peak migration times. This often coincides with the seasonal shifts when eagles are on the move and actively searching for food. Additionally, timing trips to coincide with sunrises and sunsets can create stunning lighting conditions for photography.

Essential Gear and Techniques

Capturing eagles in flight or perched requires the right gear and photography techniques. A sturdy DSLR or mirrorless camera with a fast burst mode is ideal for capturing action shots of eagles in flight.

To freeze the swift motion of eagles, set the camera to a fast shutter speed, typically above 1/1000th of a second. Continuous autofocus and tracking modes help maintain focus on moving eagles.

For sharp and detailed images, long telephoto lenses are essential. A focal length of 300mm or more allows photographers to capture eagles from a safe distance without disturbing them.

Using a tripod is beneficial for stability, especially when using heavy telephoto lenses. It ensures sharper images and reduces camera shake during long-focal-length shots.

Ethical Wildlife Photography

While photographing eagles, it is crucial to practice ethical wildlife photography. Human presence can disrupt eagle behavior and disturb their habitat, impacting their survival.

  • Maintain a safe distance from the eagles and use long telephoto lenses to capture close-up shots without causing distress.
  • Avoid interfering with their natural activities, such as feeding or nesting, and never intentionally provoke them for action shots.
  • Respect nesting sites and keep a safe distance, especially during the breeding season, to prevent unnecessary stress for the eagles.

Remember that the well-being of the eagles and their habitat should always take precedence over getting the perfect shot. As photographers, we have a responsibility to protect and preserve these magnificent birds for future generations to admire and appreciate.

Capturing Eagles in Diverse Habitats

Eagles inhabit a wide range of ecosystems, from coastal areas and wetlands to mountainous regions and forests. This section explores the unique challenges and opportunities of photographing eagles in diverse habitats.

Coastal regions offer photographers the chance to capture eagles in dynamic flight as they glide over open waters, hunting for fish. Wetlands provide a serene backdrop for capturing eagles in their natural environment, wading through shallow waters or perching on tree branches.

Mountainous regions showcase eagles soaring above majestic peaks, creating dramatic and awe-inspiring compositions. Forests, with their dense canopy, challenge photographers to find vantage points that allow glimpses of these elusive birds.

Understanding the behaviors and habits of eagles in each habitat is vital for planning successful photography trips. By immersing themselves in these diverse environments, photographers can capture the true essence of eagles and their remarkable adaptability to various landscapes.


Thank you for joining me on this thrilling exploration of eagle migration photography in the breathtaking landscapes of Alaska. Capturing the majesty of these birds in their natural habitat is an unparalleled experience that every wildlife photographer dreams of. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting your photography journey, I'm here to assist you in capturing those awe-inspiring moments.

Reach out to me at (907) 799-7876 or [email protected] for more information or to book your spot on my guided photography tours. Let's embark on an extraordinary adventure together and capture the beauty of Alaska's wildlife like never before. Happy photographing!

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