It's amazing how much progress has been made recently in the world of photography.

I wonder if at a point in the future if features like Eye AF might make bird photography so much easier if it'd be less fun. If eventual development means success is almost guaranteed and the need for skill is greatly reduced would you still want to do it?

My family is in north central Illinois. We'll typically travel to the Mississippi River area (~ 1 1/2 hour drive) a couple times a year for eagles in the winter when the Army Corp Engineers counts show eagles are in the areas of the lock & dams. We've done this with equipment as nice as 80D/100-400 II or as basic as 60D/55-250.

The equipment makes a huge difference there is no doubt about that. You could get decent results with 250-300mm focal length and more basic AF if the birds were plentiful, you really knew where to go, have good anticipation, etc... but it is a lot easier with a longer FL lens and better AF.

As time goes on both the equipment, knowledge, and skill get better so of course the end photographs do too. If it became to easy though I though I think it'd lose some of the allure. There are plenty of trips that come up without a lot of photographic return. Of course, there's bonding with people you care about and I think that's really the point of it, eagles are just a good reason to get together.