My neighbors and I suspected something was up last fall. We were wonderfully surprised last Spring 2016 when a pair of bald eagles made their appearance near our homes on the bluffs above Lake Natoma in Orangevale and Folsom for the first time ever. We watched them soar back and forth to a tall, leaning pine tree they favored roosting in. And some were even lucky to see them dive bomb into Lake Natoma and snatch up a fish for dinner, surprising kayakers nearby.
Around fall and into winter, we noticed a difference in their behavior. The eagles were now flying to their pine tree with pieces of lumber and pine needles in their beaks. Little by little, we saw a nest developing. It grew bigger and bigger. If you've never seen an eagle's nest, you can't miss it is so massive. About a month ago, one of the eagles was constantly sitting in the nest. Could it be?
Carmichael nature photographer Susan Maxwell Skinner has been chronicling the eagles the past year. She was able to get the first picture of a sweet, tiny baby eaglet. Two are now in the nest.
Most of the passers by know me as the Raptor Lady," said Skinner, who took the amazing photos for this piece. Word of the eagles and their babies got around. We don't disclose their exact location on the 200-acre nature preserve in order to protect them. Their pine tree is behind a fence on a sheer bluff. Most people and photographers are respectful and keep their distance so they don't spook the noble birds with the distinct white heads and curved beaks. Harming a bald eagle, our nation's symbol, is a federal crime.
Skinner spends hours on the bluffs, waiting for just the right light and moment to capture their majesty.
"You have to wait patiently and every now and again, you'll get a little bit of opportunity through branches of the tree," Skinner said. "You have to be extremely patient. You have to be very focused."
A year after they appeared on the bluffs, the bald eagle family has grown by two. While we were thrilled to see two, we are now overjoyed to see four. Welcome to the neighborhood, eaglets. We can't wait to see you take your first flight.