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The Eagles Have Landed

IN THE FALL OF 2003, PHOTOGRAPHERS Jess and Peggy Thompson of Burnet learned of a bald eagle nest east of Llano. A rare trio of eagles, it turned out, was building a nest in a fortuitous spot for birders and photographers—high in a pecan tree barely 140 yards south of Texas 29. The Thompsons took a few photographs, then returned to take a few more and observe the birds’ behavior. As they learned more and watched the eagles raise their brood, they soon found themselves engrossed in an intense eagle-watching project that continues to this day. You can follow the eagles’ adventures through Jess and Peggy’s book of photographs, Llano Bald Eagle Nest: A Three Year Pictorial, which contains almost 100 color images of this unusual family of birds. (Because eagles normally nest in pairs, wildlife biologists speculate that the second female is an older bird that has lost her mate.)

Thanks to the Thompsons’ interesting observations and images, you’re privy to how the birds went about their lives for three seasons. You’ll see the adults wrestling with limbs to repair the nest, mating and preening, hunkering down to incubate their eggs, and later, ferrying fish and turtles from the Llano River to feed their eaglets. Eleven weeks after hatching (usually in January), the eaglets finally fledge (usually by mid-April), and Jess and Peggy captured that on film, too.

The eagles—and the Thompsons—returned this past fall for a fourth nesting season, and new photographs of the family are posted regularly at www.cottonwoodphotography.com. Also check the Web site to buy the book ($32.95) or to find directions to view the nest yourself. You can also send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call 512/715-0141.

From the January 2007 issue.

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