Category Archives: Fauna

Communing with My Adopted Eagle Family—one Smith Rock Wildlife Photographer’s Story

Guest blogger Jack Wills has a special connection to wildlife, and they to him. A self-described “semi-professional” photographer, Jack has decided to focus on them specifically for the last 15 years. The result is an amazing portfolio with images that make you feel a part of his “Animal Kingdom” experience.

Jack Wills Photography website
Jack Wills Photography website

We were fortunate to run into him hanging out with his bald eagle family here at Smith Rock the other day. In addition to sharing some of his images from the day, he shared his story of what makes the park so special to him as a wildlife photographer.

The Snake Charmer of Smith Rock

Steve Lay loves snakes and they love him.

As soon as they start to warm up in the late spring, they make the trek to the bridge in Smith Rock State Park with him to help us appreciate them more.

Steve Lay and his snake friend at Smith Rock State ParkA retired school teacher, Steve doesn’t tire of answering dozens of questions from his big-eyed audience, as his unnamed snake wraps around his hands and arms.

In fact, he’s happy to educate an often misinformed and apprehensive public on the role of snakes and how to coexist with them.

But here, let him tell you why he volunteers his time many weekends each year.

Up Close and Personal with George Lepp and the Bald Eagles of Smith Rock

George Lepp is serious about capturing bald eagles, photographically speaking.

Two years ago he spent 12 weeks and over 80 hours documenting a pair of bald eagles from hatching to fledging. After watching the 10-minute movie in the Welcome Center he made of the process, we wanted to learn more about George.

George Lepp photographing bald eagles at Smith Rock State ParkSome of his credits include Field Editor for Outdoor Photographer Magazine and a Canon “Explorer of Light,” which features the industry’s most influential photographers.

His images have appeared in some of the world’s most widely viewed venues and on the covers of many books and magazines too numerous to list here.

The Eagle Has Landed

That would be the bald eagle spotted in its nest in the giant ponderosa across from the rim at The Bivy campground.

For the past few years, Smith Rock State Park has been the home of a pair of balds that share the park with golden eagles–not a usual event.

Watch the video of the eagle and marmot chatting, or at least we cut it that way. At the end, we pull back from the eagle to give you context of where the nest is located.

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