Alabama Original: Bald Eagles of Lake Guntersville | Features

A bald eagle soars over Lake Guntersville on Aug. 5, 2022. 

John Pate and his camera have been all over Alabama, but when it comes to spotting bald eagles, his top spot is Lake Guntersville.

Friday, Nov. 4 was a typical morning for John Pate of Grant.

He started the day at his lake house on Lake Guntersville, eager to get out on the water.

“There were several geese out this morning that came flying on out of here,” Pate explained.

But it’s not geese that Pate is on the lookout for.

“There’s no telling where they went,” Pate said. “When they’re in a tree, they’re really difficult to see.”

He’s talking about one of the most majestic creatures out there: the bald eagle.

Bald Eagle of Lake Guntersville

Roseberry, a bald eagle, stares down photographer John Pate’s viewfinder as he captures some of the many eagles flying around Lake Guntersville on Oct. 22, 2022.

“They’re just magnificent,” Pate said. “They’re just beautiful birds with the big white head and big white tail.”                                                                     

The sky is his canvas. The camera is his paintbrush. Our nation’s bird is his subject. The finished products are nothing short of stunning.

Bald Eagle of Lake Guntersville

A bald eagle takes flight in front of photographer John Pate’s camera on Aug. 28, 2022.

“I’ll take anything from 10,000 to 20,000 photos each year,” Pate said.

His wife, Lisa, has a real eagle eye for spotting the birds. Pate puts together a photo album each year full of all the moments he and his wife have captured.

Bald Eagle of Lake Guntersville

Roseberry, a bald eagle, takes flight with their freshly caught fish from Lake Guntersville on Sept. 3, 2022.

The couple spends just about every weekend out on the water, hoping to get a glimpse of something spectacular. He recently retired from a decades-long commitment to his country in the Army civilian corps.

“Usually that white head, if it’s a mature one, you can see it with the sun shining on it from at least a half-mile away,” Pate said.

Bald Eagle

A bald eagle towers over Lake Guntersville looking for lunch on Friday, November 4, 2022.

Pate has traveled the state, looking for the best places to find the once hard-to-find majestic creatures. The bird’s population, which used to be near extinction, is thriving once again.

Pate said the top spot to see them is right here at home.

Bald Eagle of Lake Guntersville

A bald eagle rests for a moment on a log in Lake Guntersville on Nov. 4, 2022.

“Guntersville, by far, has got more eagles than any other lake in Alabama, that’s for sure,” Pate said.

To see more of Pate’s pictures, click HERE.

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Bald Eagle of Lake Guntersville

A bald eagle soars over Lake Guntersville on Nov. 4, 2022.