The Eagle Has Landed

     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.       

Surf’s Up!

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.

Photo credit to St. Clair County Community newspaper MI

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.    

My mothers art – Bald Eagle – 2014 – on canvas paper
recent version – Bald Eagle – March 2021 – based on a newspaper clipping

I remember studying this Alfred Lord Tennyson poem in grade school:

The Eagle:

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ring’d with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.

Music: Fly Like An Eagle – Steve Miller Band – 1976

(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.

31 thoughts on “The Eagle Has Landed

  1. Anne says:

    How frustrating for so many people to both spot and photograph these magnificent eagles that remained hidden from your view! I have always enjoyed that poem and I like your mother’s paintings too.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ally Bean says:

    I have never seen an eagle in real life around here. I had no idea they live to be 20 years old. Gulls on the other hand are around here, and rather noisy about it. They are always ready for a photo op.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Gulls are the divas of the bird world. Yesterday I read in the local paper that there’s an owl in one of the other parks, and I’ve never seen one of those either, so now I’ll be owl hunting…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. avwalters says:

    I must be spoiled; I didn’t know eagles warranted such a fuss. We have two that pass overhead, nearly daily. Apparently, they live somewhere just south of us, but commute regularly overhead to Victoria Creed and its associated swamp. Whenever they pass over, the chickens run for cover.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Oh the poor chickens! I suspect this is partly because of the pandemic and people are more into outdoor activities like bird-watching, but the park was certainly popular with photographers this year. I wish I could have been there the day there were nine…..even one would do. I hear there’s an owl at another park, and I’ve never seen an owl either.

      Liked by 1 person

      • avwalters says:

        We have owls, too. We see them occasionally, but because they are nocturnal, we hear them more than we see them. There were a number of snowy owls that made very splashy appearances this year–famed for having made the the trip from the far north. I didn’t see one.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. annieasksyou says:

    So the eagle has landed—somewhere…just not where Joni the blogger could give us a bird’s-eye view. (Sorry)

    It was a fun and interesting post, and I enjoyed your mom’s artwork.

    Coincidentally, a friend sent me a link to an eagle cam last week: thousands of people a day were watching the soon-to-be parents tenderly tending to their surviving egg. (Not so tender with other species, as you noted. however.)

    I spent 20 minutes staring at a bird sitting still and then responded to my friend: Patience is a virtue—for both the watcher and the watched.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Joni says:

      Ha! I should have used your first sentence as my opening sentence. Today I was talking with a neighbour at the mail box and he told me eagles have been hanging around his (waterfront) house all winter, but are gone now. Everyone but me. I think they must be morning people. Apparently 2 eggs per nest is the usual, but often only one survives. I found it interesting reading about them. The baby ones are cute. Maybe eagle-cam watching is like meditation – takes practice.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Eilene Lyon says:

    I enjoyed your tale and mom’s eagle art. So sorry you missed you opportunity for a viewing. We have a nest about 2 miles from our house and sometimes they perch about 100 yards from the house. We get both bald and golden eagles here.

    I spent a couple of my field seasons observing bald eagles. My partner and I monitored two nests in southern Arizona (actually we did also check on a third nest). We learned a LOT about eagles and had to write reports at the end of the season. I could bore you to tears with the details, but I will just say that most things you read about them are generalities. In reality, every eagle and every pair are unique. When you’ve watched them for hundreds of hours, it becomes very apparent.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Linda Schaub says:

    Joni – I hope we are both successful in scoring some eagle pictures next Winter as it not for lack of trying. I think this was my third year in a row – the first year my pictures looked like brown specs. We should have better luck than we do because I heard on the radio today that the bald eagle population has quadrupled since 2009. That’s good for them … and hopefully for us. The ice floes always are amazing to see and I like when they get too close to the seawall at the shoreline parks then bump gently against the cement, clinking like ice bobbing in a cold drink. I like your photos of the shore and I like your mom’s paintings as well. They are so life-like and she captures the spirit of these raptors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      Yes she did a good job of the new one, considering she used an old yellowed newspaper clipping from 2014 that she found in a file. Sometimes she saves stuff she might want to paint.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        I didn’t even realize it was open…..all our museums have been closed for most of the year, including the ROM and those in Toronto. The museum where mom’s art exhibit is on has been closed since before Xmas. So out of the 5 months (it comes down April 10), it was closed 3 1/2 months. I wanted to see the VanGoth exhibit at the DIA but it was postponed until 2022.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I didn’t realize it was open either to be honest and when they made the decision to close it, it was the top local story. (I thought hmm – where have I been?”) I just looked and it says the Van Gogh exhibit is 68 works by Van Gogh will be on display with this collection exclusively at the DIA from October 2, 2022 through January 22, 2023. I thought it was here before for some reason. The meteorologist I follow had attended an art exhibit at the DIA and mentioned it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I am going to try and see if this CNN special can be streamed. I watched the debates on CNN without a hitch, so will try. I will send the link separately in case it goes to your junk filter. I know your mom has CNN, but maybe you can stream it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I looked earlier today and didn’t see it available as a podcast, nor on YouTube. Just looked again now and there is a lengthy article and portions of the interview but no podcast yet. I will look again tomorrow. I’d like to hear it … as to her interview, there were several soundbites I heard today. She has made those comments before after Biden did not want her around. Most people over here in the States feel that she can say she feels badly all she wants, but in essence her career stood in the way of coming clean with what was going on at the White House. I like Dr. Fauci, but many people say that he valued his position and did not argue with Trump (though there was that infamous eye roll and putting his head in his hand). I do agree with them saying that 400,000 people too many have died because of slipshod management … maybe if it was not an election year, more attention would have been on the pandemic, not on the election.


  7. J P says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen an eagle either, unless I get to count the brass one that used to hang over my mother’s fireplace. Maybe if I lived in the country near water?

    Liked by 1 person

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