Old Town wildlife photographer Andy Anderson wasn’t having a very successful day on March 24. He was looking for snowy owls, but they were nowhere to be seen. Then, all of the sudden, his luck changed.

Driving along Route 202 in Hampden, he spotted a dark shape moving in a ravine below the road.

“I got out my binoculars, and it turned out to be a bald eagle,” Anderson said.

It was about 3 degrees Fahrenheit, he recalled, when he got out of the car and rested his Nikon D700 camera on the guardrail to photograph the majestic raptor.

Through his high-power camera lens (a Tamron 150-600mm), he watched the bald eagle feed on the remains of a bird, scattering long banded feathers on the snow. A wild turkey, perhaps?

A few minutes later, Anderson watched as a second bald eagle swooped down and landed in the snow beside the first, which appeared to hunch over the meal protectively. Side by side, it was clear that the first eagle was larger than the second.

The larger eagle was likely a female, the smaller was its male mate, said Erynn Call, raptor specialist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Bird Group.

Mature female and male bald eagles have the same appearance: a stark white head and tail, a solid brown body and a yellow beak and legs. Therefore, it’s difficult to tell if a bald eagle is male or female, but in general, Call said, females are larger than males.

While the female eagle initially looked protective of the food, she eventually backed off and the male finished the meal.

“When I took the shots, I heard the voices of George Costanza’s parents arguing,” Anderson said, referring to a particularly argumentative couple on the TV sitcom “Seinfeld.”

March is the beginning of the bald eagle mating season in Maine, Call said. During that time, it’s not unusual to see a pair hunting and eating together.

The meal devoured, the pair took flight, leaving behind only a few scattered feathers and bones.

“I shot about 1,000 photos,” Anderson said.

While watching or photographing wildlife, Call suggests people keep their distance and observe their natural behavior. In fact, it’s illegal to “molest or disturb” a bald eagle under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, even though it is no longer listed as an endangered species.

Anderson said he was 250 to 300 feet away from the eagles while photographing and they didn’t appear to notice of him.

In addition to giving eagles space, Call advises that people give bald eagle nests a wide berth March through September, when pairs are using the nest to raise their young. From March to May, eagles are incubating their eggs, and in July, eagle fledglings are learning to fly. Often, these young eagles will be found on the ground. Leave them there, Call said. The adults will feed the fledgling on the ground.

“It’s always best to keep them in their natural situation,” Call said.

While some Maine wildlife had a tough time this winter because of the long periods of extreme cold and record snowfall, bald eagles seem to be faring well, Call said.

“They’re very opportunistic predators,” Call said. “Fish and birds are their prefered prey, but they’ll take what’s available, including scavenging a deer carcass.”

Biodiversity Research Institute data from bird leg bands and satellite transmitters tells biologists that eagles have the ability to roam great distances in search of food. Because of this ability, bald eagles are able to fare well even during unusually cold and snowy winters, Call said. During the winter, Maine’s bald eagles will often travel to open water to prey on ducks, geese, gulls and other water birds.

“In Maine, we’re no where close to the northern range limit for bald eagles,” Call said. “So they’re really not having too tough of a time due to the harsh winter, and they move out of the area if they so choose to.”

People interested in supporting Maine research on non-game wildlife, such as the bald eagle, can do so through purchasing a Maine Birder Band, making a donation to the Chickadee Check-off or purchasing a Conservation Registration Plate (Maine loon license plate).

Anderson is the owner of Kingfisher Photography. More of his Maine wildlife photography can be seen on his website at kingfisherphotography.com and his Facebook page.

Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn Sarnacki is a Maine outdoors writer and the author of three Maine hiking guidebooks including “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine.” Find her on Twitter and Facebook @1minhikegirl. You can also...