The eagle has landed – on the ice floes in the river, and I have joined the paparazzi lining the banks in search of a picture. He perches on the ice hunting for fish in the water and lives with his brethren in the nearby trees. People have reported sightings of his massive wingspan while driving along the river road.
For all I know, this could just be a myth, for I’ve never seen a bald eagle, although I hear they like to hang out in the waterfront park this time of year and catch fish.
They’ve even been known to hitch a ride downriver with the swift-moving current, like surfer dudes trying to catch the big one.
This quiet park has been frequented this past month by photographers along the shore, tripods and fancy zoom lens in hand, watching and waiting, all eager to get that first photo for the Facebook page. Apparently, it’s been a good year for eagle sightings, for everyone but me.
I’ve walked in this park quite a few times the past six weeks and nada…..although the fellow walkers I meet and greet will tell me, “there were nine here yesterday. Yes – nine!” A real eagle convention. My neighbor saw one swooping down right in front of her windshield. One man told me there were two circling high in the sky, but not to my eyes. All I saw were seagulls.
Maybe they know which days I walk, and decide to stay home and take a nice long nap in the old nest.
Eagle nests can reach a great size, but usually only have two eggs. The large nests must support their weight and height, as they can be big creatures, averaging 12 lbs for the female, and 9 lbs for the male, and standing up to three feet tall, with wingspans up to seven feet. They hardly flap their wings, but glide about on the air currents. Both the male and female take turns sitting on the eggs, although the female does the majority of the incubating. They can use the same nest for years, and the eggs hatch mid-April to May. I saw a news video recently of baby eagles in a nest – two cute little balls of white fluff. The young eagles are brown until they are about 5 years, and then develop the distinctive white heads and tails. They are birds of prey, predominately fish eaters, but also small birds and mammals, and not too fussy about the type of carcass – roadkill will do just fine. They are notorious for their sudden dives and grasp their prey with their talons, using the sharp hind toe one to kill. Average life span is about 20 years although they can live longer.
Apparently, there is a nest somewhere, in the trees along the river, whose bare branches would surely make such a sight visible, but again not to me. The nests tend to be mid-tree in order to support their weight. It must be farther back along the creek which empties into the river. This is a popular spot for overwintering birds, as an industrial plant discharges warm water into the creek, thus providing a sauna-like atmosphere much appreciated in the freezing cold. There are plenty of seagulls, more Canadian geese than anyone would ever want to see, and those pairs of mute swan lovers I’ve featured on Wordless Wednesday.
Eagles are majestic creatures, a symbol of freedom. My American readers surely know more about them than I do, as the eagle is their national bird, (I really liked that eagle on Lady Gaga’s sweater at the inauguration), whereas we in Canada have the more industrious and ugly-as-hell-rodent – the beaver.
There’s been very little ice in the river this year. After a brutal snowy February, we’ve had a relatively mild March, so the ice and snow have all melted now and the photographers have dispersed. The eagles must either be nesting or have gone south for spring break, leaving me with no good reason to visit a park now littered with green geese goop. There’s always next year….
700 words seems kind of short for a blog, so I’ll add some art, poetry, and music.
I remember studying this Alfred Lord Tennyson poem in grade school:
He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.
(Eagle stats from Wikipedia and St. Clair County Community Newspaper – MI)
PS. Check out fellow blogger Eileen of Myricopia for her blog about observing breeding habits of bald eagles for Arizona Game & Fish here – link.