Remember a few posts back when I said I was planning to tell you about my eagle friends? Well, that time has come, dear readers.
First, a little background. For the last several weeks, I have been spying bald eagles regularly in the sky around my house. At first, they were so far away, I was only guessing. But then, one day, one perched atop a tree on the neighboring dairy farm property. The silhouette was so huge, I was pretty sure, but the sun was to behind it, so I couldn’t tell black from white. Then, my friends, it spoke. And I knew it was true. My giant friend in the nearby tree was indeed a bald eagle. I’d know that sound anywhere:
(Youtube kindly let me borrow this video. I did not film it. I wish I had such an awesome opportunity.)
After that, I saw the eagle regularly up in one of the trees. I work on my computer all day long and face out large bay windows with a 180 degree view of the tree line at the dairy farm, plus my chicken coop, mini-orchard, veggie garden, and raspberry trellis… not to mention my neighbors’ sheep pasture where I got to see a baby lamb BORN yesterday out my window while working. Ha! Beat that! I was so excited. But, I digress. Point is – it’s easy for me to spy the eagle. Then one day, something huge and dark swooped past my window. I looked up from my work and saw not one but TWO bald eagles, wheeling around in the sky directly over my property. They were never more than 20 or 30 feet off the ground. It was a great show. And one was bigger and the other smaller, so that got me to thinking that maybe we had a breeding pair with a nest nearby and that’s why I’d been seeing them over and over again and that’s why they were talking too.
And so, for a few weeks, it’s gone on like this. Sometimes I see one or both perched in a tree while I’m working. Other times, I see them fly overhead in a straight line, with purpose, off in search of food. I’ve been witness to more than one display of aerial acrobatics, and sometimes I get to hear them talk (my favorite!). Then one day, I confirmed my own suspicions. I was taking a walk along our neighborhood street, daydreaming, enjoying the sunshine and my book-on-ipod, when I spied it – the huge, round, dark mass high up in a tree at the dairy farm. An eyrie – an eagles’ nest. That’s right, my friends, we have a breeding pair of bald eagles. HOW COOL IS THAT???
So, can you tell I like eagles? If you regularly follow my blog, you may have come to realize that I am mildly obsessed with all living things, big and small, creepy and crawly. They’re all fantastic to me. But my obsession with the world’s top predators runs much deeper than that. Wolves. Orcas. Eagles. These things are my loves. Beautiful, majestic, rare, strong, intelligent, deadly, and the pinnacle of evolution. Stately, gracefully honed killing machines that nurture their young and are keystones in their ecosystems. So, to me, to have the opportunity to observe eagles up-close and personally from my very own home is nothing short of magical. Ah, but here I am waxing poetic. Back to my story…
So this morning, I was sitting at my computer as usual, and Brian said goodbye and walked out the front door behind me. When he closed it, I saw some movement out of the window on the right hand side of my desk. I thought he scared some birds. “Some birds” indeed. A minute later, I saw the movement again and something about it made me look up. And swooping down from the sky into the sheep pasture was one of the eagles! Right here in our next door neighbors’ yard! Then I looked and I saw the other one, perched on a fencepost. The one in flight soon settled on a fence post as well while I called Brian.
“You missed it! Holy cow! Are you gone? You should see this! The eagles are on the fence in the sheep paddock! They’re like 10 yards away from me! Holy COW!!!”
“Cool, get off the phone and take some pictures!”
“Oh YEAH! Crap. BYE!” <click>
At this moment, let me mention that it was dark, cloudy, and raining, so picture-taking conditions were slightly less than ideal. Also, my camera is far less than awesome, and I don’t have much of a zoom. Anyway, I snatched up my camera, pulled up the blinds and took a shot through the window for good measure, in case they flew off before I got another shot.
Then I opened the front door quietly, didn’t close it (too much noise) and TIPTOED very, VERY slowly toward the eagles. When they were in view, I zoomed as much as I could and just started snapping, sneaking forward painfully slowly the entire time.
Then one, I think the male (the smaller one) took off and started flying in a big, low circle (that’s how I got the aerial shot at the beginning of the post). His girlfriend sat there and watched him for a bit.
and flew off to join him. And thus ended my pathetic photo session. I can only hope that I will be given another opportunity so I can share decent photos with you. Or maybe it has something to do with the American Indian way of thinking – that photographs capture the spirit of the subjects, and are thus best avoided. Maybe the eagles will remain elusive to my camera. Standing there, they were so clear to me and were so close, but through the camera lens (the tiny, sad pocket-sized digital camera lens), they were little more than blurs. Maybe that’s the way it should be.
p.s. by the way… the chickens seem to be very aware of what an eagle call is. A couple of times we’ve been out free-ranging and the eagles will start talking from quite far away, while sitting in trees, and the chickens all immediately BOLT for the coop. I’ve never seen anything else scare them inside so quickly. Instinct is an amazing thing.