Local man finds peace, inspiration from documenting eagles’ lives
John Green took his first photo of an eagle three years ago, and hasn’t stopped since. Now that he is retired, most days he and his camera can be found sitting at Little Pine State Park, in Cummings Township, keeping a watchful eye on an eagle’s nest across Pine Creek.
When he snapped his first photo of an eagle, Green admits he didn’t have the greatest camera.
“When I blew up the photo, I was just hooked on that view of their face.” he said. Green, of Williamsport, said the big influence on his love of nature stems from attending Crossroads Community Church, in Jersey Shore.
“They talk about heaven and, to me, it was a heaven on earth up there. It just gave me those vibrations of a little taste of what heaven might be like,” Green said.
His photography skills have grown along with his love of the majestic national birds – so much so that he now blogs most days and shares his photos and observations on a Facebook page dedicated to the eagles that call Little Pine State Park home.
“I decided this year to blog more about the life of those two eagles,” Green said. “Eagles have a chain of events you can almost predict. Around Valentine’s Day in this area, eagles mate. They mated around Valentine’s Day and I would go up. I wanted to catch when the female would stay on the nest. The first eaglet was born this year on April 1st. It takes 30-35 days for an egg to hatch.”
He is occasionally recognized at the park by people who follow his blog and photos.
“I’m a little nervous when people come and say they are my greatest fan,” Green said. “I’m not doing it for that. I just like to share and blog the life of this mated pair and their eaglets. My wife jokes, ‘Did they ask for your autograph?’ he said with a smile. Green’s wife, Stephanie, is very supportive of his hobby and claims to be his true biggest fan.
By spending so much time at the park, Green has made some connections with people from all over the globe. “I’ve met people from Russia, Florida, Illinois, you name it.”
Documenting the eagle family as it has grown, Green has been there for all the milestones and can happily tell you the day and time those achievements were reached. He went very often while waiting for the eggs to hatch and the first head to pop up out of the nest.
“I may have gone there 5, 6, 7 days in a row … sometimes staying 6 or 7 hours. There is a progression. It’s fun to watch them feed the juveniles, the second head popped up a few days later, but that eagle died on April 23rd,” Green said.
He can also tell you when the juvenile eagle fledged the nest. “It was June 15th at 11:23 a.m. It was exciting. I saw it land for the first time. It flew about 20 yards and landed in a tree.”
When it came back, it missed the landing at the nest and landed upside down and Green captured it all on camera.
Like any other animal, there are many hours of inactivity with the eagles, and patience is key in getting good photos.
“People say there is nothing happening, but they have to learn if you like to watch eagles, you like to watch paint dry,” Green said. “There is nothing happening a lot of the time. They can sit there for 3 hours and do nothing.”
Green recommends going to see the nest this time of year, when the eagles are most active. The best times are early mornings from 7 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and evenings from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
If it is a hot day, the eagles will sit in the shade most of the afternoon. He has also photographed pileated woodpeckers, various types of ducks, black bears, turtles and other wildlife while patiently waiting for the eagles to make an appearance. Bring your longest lens with you he recommends. “A cellphone won’t do.”
Green finds being out in nature a great place to relax and reflect.
“Sometimes, I put on religious songs and it’s so surreal it brings tears to my eyes. They are so majestic. They can battle any bird and be the winner. Two times I’ve seen eagles and geese fighting and both times that I’ve seen the geese attack the eagle, the eagle flies away,” Green said. “Even though the eagle is the superior bird, it knows when to pick it’s battles. The eagle won’t chance hurting itself and doesn’t mind gracefully leaving a battle. That’s a good life lesson.”
Green plans to keep documenting the eagle activity for years to come as long as he is physically fit.
“The older in life I get, I realize that I’m not gonna be here forever, but I know that the next life is going to be just fabulous,” he said. “So being in touch with eagles and nature just reminds me that I’m going to fledge this nest, and I’m really going to soar.”