The One I Never Wanted to Write

This one is hard.

This one is a post that I hoped that I would never have to write. But it must be done because it is such an important part of the story.

Today The Treetop Palace has lost its queen.

I have often said that “life in the wild is wild” and that was never more true than it was today. My emotions are churning and I have no idea if my fingers can even put into words the thoughts that are swirling around in my head.

The overlying purpose of this blog is to share the stories of Jim and Cindy’s adventures in a way that is both factual and entertaining. But just as important is our goal to educate our readers on the realities of life in the wild. Jim and Cindy have met challenge after challenge and they have overcome each one. But some challenges are just too big. Sometimes the challenges win.

I apologize if the following record of the days events are painful for you. They are for me as well. The images captured by various people today are graphic and may be disturbing but I owe it to Cindy and to you, our readers, to share this day’s happenings for they too are a part of the struggle for survival that goes on all around us. It would be unfair of me not to share these events with those who lovingly follow Jim and Cindy. Let me assure you that this is not the end of their story for Cindy will live on in the lives of her many offspring. Jim is young, healthy and has a well established territory. It will be difficult to watch him over the next several days and weeks as he waits for his mate’s return but eventually he will realize that she is not coming home this time. Every year more and more young adult female eagles pass through his domain looking for a mate to bond with and we will continue to share Jim’s adventures as they unfold.

But now for today’s tragic events as I understand them:

Life has a way of becoming ordinary, even to the point of being mundane. Every day we each follow familiar routines as we rush off to work, school or wherever. And so it was this morning. As the crews of The Mad River well field began their never ending duties of maintaining wells, servicing pumps, clearing away debris and such, Cindy was busy with her normal duties as well. She was on the hunt for yet another stick to add to the aerie in preparation for this winter’s eggs. She had found a nice long stick, one any eagle would have been proud of, and headed back to their sycamore tree. That is when tragedy struck. Apparently just around 9:00, the ends of that long stick made simultaneous contact with bare wire conductors that carry electricity through the well field. Now we all know that wood is a non-conductive material but water is an excellent conductor and this stick was quite water-laden. The electrical current flowed along the stick, into Cindy’s left foot, passed through her body and exited her right chest. She was gone in an instant. Work crews nearby heard the electrical buzz, lights flickered and breakers kicked off. Workers nearby rushed toward the direction of the flash and their worst fears were confirmed. There, on her back, on the barren ground, they found the lifeless body of Queen Cindy still clutching a portion of her prized stick. The following image is both poignant and sad.

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What a tragedy. What a loss.

Our local utility company has been pretty proactive in protecting our eagles by installing avian protection devices on many of the poles within the well field but the conductors between the poles are always an unseen threat to our eagles. I have often mentioned that the well field crews take the privacy and protection of their resident eagles very personally so I can only imagine the disappointment and the emotions that flooded their hearts as they realized that there was absolutely nothing that they could do. Grown men can cry too. Here before them on the cold ground lay the still form of unmeasurable beauty and grace. A “friend” they had cherished for over eight years. One whom they had encountered in summer’s heat and winter’s snow. One they had grown to admire and respect for her fortitude and resiliency. One many had even come to love.

Word of the tragedy spread rapidly across the well field as phone calls were made. Betty Ross and Rebecca Jaramillo, our dear friends at The Glen Helen Raptor Center were notified of their need and they responded at once. We have relied on their expertise often to recover injured juveniles from Jim and Cindy’s nest. Just a few years ago I stood here with Betty and others during the release of a rehabilitated fledgling and we had rejoiced together as Cindy appeared out of nowhere, swooped low under a tree and escorted her no-longer-missing youngster into the sky. Now tears flowed down the cheeks of many of those awaiting their arrival.

All stood in solemn silence as Rebecca quietly and respectfully placed Cindy on a towel and swaddled her snuggly.

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Later in the afternoon Roger and I made our way to the raptor center to say our last goodbyes to this wonderful creature that we had grown to admire so.

 

We had spent hours watching her from afar, recording her story in images and words and sharing it with others. We wanted to…no…we needed to finally hold her in our arms and show our appreciation for all that she had meant to us over the years, all that she still means. She had never failed to make us smile, never failed to encourage us to allow our hearts to soar. Many people think that it is funny to become so attached to a wild creature but there are so many folks in Virginia, Iowa, Florida and across the country that understand that allowing yourself to become attached to a wild eagle carries far more blessings than heartaches, far more joy than pain.

Cindy was truly the queen of her domain. The Bible says that God’s unseen attributes are clearly seen in what He has created. Cindy never failed to reflect God’s glory, power, majesty and grace to my heart. The memory of her beauty will bless my heart forever as it does now as I share a posting that I never wanted to write.

 

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Published in: on December 1, 2016 at 5:34 am  Comments (164)  

Blessings Upon Blessings

As you count your blessings tomorrow know that each of you are being counted among ours. We are truly grateful for all of our followers and visitors and for the blessing of being able to share Jim and Cindy’s adventures with all of you.

Most of you have read of how as a child I would lie on a hillside and search the summer skies for a glimpse of a passing eagle but there were none in the Dayton area to be seen. I still count it a marvelous blessing to be able to see them almost daily now! May we never grow so accustomed to the blessings that God sends our way to take them for granted and cease to be thankful.

May tomorrow be filled with love, laughter and smiles and may our every glimpse of an eagle remind us that God is watching over us.

From Jim and Cindy and all of the Eastwood Eagle Watchers, happy Thanksgiving and remember to keep looking up!

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Published in: on November 23, 2016 at 6:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Necessity of Autumn Chores

Chores! Too many chores! Late autumn is full of them and they all need to be done.

We rush to take advantage of a few days of decent weather to prepare for the not-so-decent weather that is bound to hit us eventually. The patio furniture must be stored, the grill has to be covered, the wood pile should be prepared to make us cozy on chilly winter nights, storm windows must be installed, roofs prepared, furnaces inspected and readied, gutters cleaned, summer plants removed, vegetable gardens cleared, automobiles made ready for the frigid temperatures, slippery ice and sloppy slush… And don’t even mention the endless supply of leaves! All of these annual duties fall on top of the usual mopping, vacuuming, laundry, dishes… (I know that the word chores has six letters but it is really just a 4-letter word in disguise…WORK.)

All of those chores can easily get in the way of quiet walks in the wood, eagle watching by the lake and sharing the beauty of nature with friends. There are only so many decent days left in the year and it seems like such a shame to waste them on chores!

But chores are a necessity. Even for eagles. Jim and Cindy are laboring away at nestorations in preparation for the oncoming nesting season. Jim’s main job appears to be bringing home sticks for Cindy to place wherever she pleases. Sometimes he tries to offer a suggestion or two but our girl can be pretty strong-willed. After a brief tug-a-war Jim will fly off in search of yet another suitable construction timber.

But even while completing the list of autumn chores a person needs a break every now and then! That is when the fun begins as Jim and Cindy make a quick run to Eastwood to flirt with one another or to just rest.

 

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Just seeing Jim passing overhead inspecting his domain can be an exhilaratingly beautiful sight. The clarity of his focus and his almost effortless flight is inspiring if you happen to be blessed enough to witness his journey.

 

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Seeing Cindy landing in a nearby tree can be just as captivating. Her newly formed, pristine feathers glisten in the sunlight. She is at her best this time of year! Fall is a time for courting and she dresses to impress her mate. The damaged, soiled, worn out feathers that testified of the rigors of incubation, brooding and eaglet rearing now lay discarded on the ground somewhere, like a fading memory.

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But greater still is the thrill of seeing our duo together and watching as their bonds grow even stronger while they simply enjoy each other’s company. I could sit and watch them silently bond like this for hours. That would be a much better use of this beautiful mid-November day.

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But all too soon their brief break is over. First one and then the other takes wing, returning to The Treetop Palace to add a few more sticks to their already impressive fortress. Even majestic American Bald Eagles cannot escape the necessity of autumn chores.

 

 

Published in: on November 18, 2016 at 9:37 pm  Comments (12)  

Two by Two

One can be a very lonely number. In fact songwriters have claimed that one is the loneliest number. But a faithful friend can make all the difference. Just ask The Lone Ranger and Tonto, Jack and Jill or Batman and Robin. Life is just easier with a friend, especially if that friend is your own dependable and devoted mate, like in the case of Jim and Cindy!

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The deepest bonds dwell in friendships where communication is often wordless and real companionship grows by just spending hours together. True friendships are beautiful miracles and the truest friendships last a lifetime!

The rigorous demands of the nesting season, the hours of flight training and hunting demonstrations have slipped away like the summer heat. The arrival of autumn means quieter days of less activity and more freedom. Eagles relish these days of cool breezes and brisk, clear skies. This is the time of intentional bonding motivated by the will and not by the pressing demands of life. These are the days of spending time together not by necessity but by choice.

And not just for pair-bonded adults but for juveniles too. Young eagles love companionship and this year’s nest mates are no exception.

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Siblings can be very good friends. Spending time together along the lakeshore and just watching the world go by can be very bonding in its own way. Their companionship began blossoming during those 12 long weeks of passing time away in The Treetop Palace. But like all siblings, their relationship grows a bit competitive at times so quiet perching can lead to a bit of rivalry, roughhousing and horsing (or eagling) around.

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Not-so-young eagles also long for companionship…and home. The memories of family bonds and comforting surroundings can lure wandering eagles from previous nesting seasons back to their natal areas for autumn homecomings. The relaxed atmosphere of these shortening days creates the perfect opportunity to return to where it all began and to linger among the nostalgic memories of bygone days and familiar sights and sounds.

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Someone once said, “You can never go home again.” but at least for a brief period of time in this less hectic season, home may be the best place to be. “Home” and “childhood” are two more of those miraculous things that make life worth living and more enjoyable. Life passes through seasons just like this planet that we call home and every season has its miracles. As some feathered friends are returning to our area, others are leaving for warmer climes.

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Miracles come in all sizes but as Roger’s wonderful pictures have illustrated, every single one is a blessing. Whether one by one, two by two or in much greater numbers, every miracle is a wonderful gift, a gift for which we should be thankful. There is beauty all around us and we can see it reflected in the vastness of the heavens or in a simple, solitary drop of water.

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But miracles are best when shared by two.

Published in: on October 1, 2016 at 5:18 am  Comments (18)  

Never Fail to Smile

Smiling is contagious. Maybe it is not as contagious as a yawn (Are you yawning now?) but usually if you smile at someone they smile back at you. I have tested this observation often and on the rare occasions where my smile is not returned I often silently pray for the unsmiling one, for their burdens and trials must be heavy at that moment.

This world is full of things that make me smile. My dog peacefully asleep on the floor, the warm aroma of baking bread, an unexpected blessing or my grandchildren doing pretty much anything, are a just a few of the things that force the corners of my lips jump for joy.

Eagles also have that affect on me. Earlier this month I was able to enjoy a few minutes of watching Jim and Cindy’s young flyers in the sky over Eastwood. They were fairly high up, soaring together in wide circles. I was able to follow their dance for almost twenty minutes! One youngster gradually climbed higher and higher until it became almost impossible to spot it with the naked eye. Even my big camera lens could only bring it slightly closer but oh what a joy to see the young one soar so masterfully and effortlessly!

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Its sibling gradually dropped a bit lower while still maintaining a healthy altitude, allowing for a much better image as it passed overhead.

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I eventually completely lost track of the higher bird but after circling for a while, the lower juvenile drifted back over the well field, dropped its feet and went fishing in Eagle Lake!

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It was reassuring to see how well they have learned the skills necessary for survival in the wild. As I thought of the successfulness of Jim and Cindy’s breeding, brooding, fledging and teaching abilities I smiled again. But that is where we are in this annual cycle of the story of our eagles. For now The Treetop Palace is dormant and empty except for some smaller birds sheltering in its basement. Next month Jim and Cindy may visit it off and on and maybe rearrange a stick or two. Then, as the cooler air and shortening days of October and November arrive, they will grow increasingly more attracted to each other. The power of their lifelong bond will be openly displayed in December’s frigid winds. January and the new year will bring about focused nest rebuilding in preparation for mid-February’s eggs as the cycle continues.

(That is the how the cycle plays out here in southwestern Ohio but in the more southern areas of our country Bald Eagles are already returning to their nests in anticipation of this year’s eggs! Eagles are very hardy creatures, able to flourish in the harsh climate of Alaska or the temperate regions of Florida. These southern birds may be slightly smaller than those farther north but they are just as fascinating to watch as they devote themselves to each other, their offspring and to conquering the challenges that confront them.)

But here in Ohio tensions are a bit less than in the heart of nesting season. Adults with established territories are not quite as aggressive without eggs, eaglets and brooding mates to defend. One of the advantages of this more hospitable time is that offspring from the past nesting seasons might return home for a brief visit and not be immediately chased away. I have seen two young adults in the area over the past weeks. While hiking in Eastwood Park along the Mad River (without my camera) I flushed a large (possibly female) four-year-old eagle from a tree along the river. I had not seen it hidden behind the leaves and I was only about 20 feet from it when it flew so I was quite startled. It flew out over the river then back through the trees, about 10 feet above the ground, making a 100′ circle around me as it headed back into the well field across the road. Then yesterday I saw a smaller young adult Bald Eagle fly north from the well field. The path that it flew is a familiar one to me so I headed a few miles north to the area where Jim and Cindy have established a territorial boundary with a nesting Miami County pair, and that is where I found the young adult along the waters of The Great Miami River.

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The oppressive heat of summer will soon melt away and the brilliant hues of autumn will take command of the landscape. As the palette of nature explodes across the hillsides and the air grows crisp and refreshing with anticipation of rest and renewal, may you be blessed by the sight of an eagle on wing and may you never fail to smile.

Published in: on August 18, 2016 at 4:24 pm  Comments (16)  

Too Much Time Alone

I know that I say it a lot but eagle watching in Dayton, Ohio takes patience. A whole lot of patience. We only have a few eagles to watch and they have miles of territory where I’m not. Therefor I spend a lot of time alone in my car watching nothing at all.

Jim and Cindy are staying true to their past habits and are being very reclusive right now as they allow their juveniles to perfect their hunting skills. I have seen the babies flying about and the adults perching here and there but it is always at a distance. Once in a while one of the members of our eagle family will venture into the Eastwood Lake MetroPark but apparently not while I am around. Roger recently captured this image of Cindy atop their favorite dead tree in the northeast corner of the lake.

 

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Beautiful, isn’t she? A bit soiled from the pressing duties of motherhood but still beautiful.

I always check this tree when I enter the park. Last year half of the tree fell and the remaining trunk sways from the weight of the eagles as they land on its barren skeleton. But they love this perch. That is why I was excited today when I spotted a large bird perched high on that tree. My poor timing would once again prove itself reliable but I decided to post the images anyway. This one is for the children and for the young at heart.

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Days had passed without a good eagle sighting. OK, any eagle sighting is a good eagle sighting but I wanted to see one closer than 1/4 mile away. That is why my pulse quickened as I spotted a large, dark form high on their favorite tree, far across the lake from where I stood! I ran to my car and started driving toward the far end of the lake. As I got closer I could see the dark body and broad shoulders but it soon became obvious that this bird had no head. Well, not much of a head anyway.

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This wasn’t a Bald Eagle at all. It was a Turkey Vulture. I parked my car and approached the bird. “Who are you?” I shouted. “I’m an eagle!” the silly vulture proclaimed loudly.

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“An eagle!?” I asked, “Did you say that you’re an eagle?” “Yep.” he answered proudly, “That’s what I said. Just watch this!”

With that the vulture stood as tall as he could, stretched his wings out as high as he could, and struck a pose that looked surprisingly eagle-like. He held the pose for several minutes as he whispered to himself, “I’m an eagle. A regal eagle.” over and over again.

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Eventually his left foot began to cramp and he had to quit posing. As he stretched out his long toes he looked right at me and asked. “Well, what do you think now? Pretty impressive huh? I told you I was an eagle!”

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“Well,” I admitted, “that was a pretty impressive imitation but it was still just an imitation of an eagle.” That answer really ruffled his feathers and he turned away poutingly.

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“Why do you want to be an eagle?” I asked him. Then, in a moment of honesty he replied, “OK. My name is Virgil T. Vulture but I don’t really like being a vulture. I want to be admired and respected like an eagle. After all, I’m balder than they are. (He had me there.) Ever since the American colonists started saying, ‘Give me liberty or give me death’ the eagle has become the symbol of liberty and I have been a symbol of death. Everyone likes liberty but nobody likes death. (He had me there too.) I want to be important.”

“But Virgil,” I argued, “You are important. If it wasn’t for scavengers like you this world would be a very stinky and messy place full of diseases and all kinds of problems! You have a very important job! Every job is important, no matter how small or insignificant it seems. You should be proud to be a vulture and you should try to be the best vulture that you can be. I could never do what you do!” (That may have been one of the most truthful statements that I have ever uttered.)

With that Virgil’s mood lightened. He looked right at me with a blank expression on his face and said, “You know something? I have never thought about it like that before. You are right! I am important! I am Virgil T. Vulture and I am important! Thank you! Thank you very much!”

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As he flew off I could see the smile on his beak and I could hear him singing, “I am a vulture! A regal vulture!” over and over again.

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The End

You know, maybe I spend just a little too much time alone.

Published in: on July 29, 2016 at 6:34 am  Comments (21)  

Again and Again and Again

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “patterns”?

Many may instantly think of a quilt, a bolt of pretty fabric, an area rug or possibly some decorative wallpaper. If we think about it patterns exist all around us, and not all patterns are visible. As I type these words I can hear the consistent “tick-tock” of the grandfather clock that stands across the room and the repetitive song of a robin outside my window.

Patterns are often comforting like the sweet, soothing rhythms of the breathing of a sleeping baby cradled safely in your arms. Some patterns may be dangerously hypnotizing too. Most of us have personally experienced the dulling of the senses that overtakes the focus of road-wearied drivers as they slowly become mesmerized by the endless parade of passing lane lines on a darkened highway. Even in bright daylight patterns can be deceptive. In my former life in the field of traffic engineering there was a condition known as an”expectancy violation.” It referred to those situations where a roadway ran parallel to an object like a long fence (similar to those found around a military base or an airport). Studies showed that drivers were more likely to drive off the pavement when the roadway eventually curved but the roadside fence continued on in a straight line. Their minds had expected the road to continue along the fence line and when that expectation was violated accidents happened, even in dry, daylight conditions. Roadways meeting that criteria often need additional signage to alert and refocus the motorist.

Patterns. They are all around us. In life we sometimes refer to patterns as routines. Alarm clock buzzes, hit the snooze button, alarm clock buzzes, hit the off button, long sigh, feet on the floor, scratch whatever is itching, stumble and grumble to the bathroom… Patterns surround us each and every day and some are more welcomed than others.

Roger reminded me of this fact yesterday when he posted this image on Facebook.

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This is Jim sitting on one of his favorite perches keeping a protective eye on his domain. During the nesting season he is seldom seen here as he and Cindy are busy incubating, brooding, guarding, hunting and feeding the eaglets. Now that the youngsters are flying his pattern is changing. From this perch he can view the deep recesses of the well field where our eagle family spends most of its time each July, but he can also view Eagle Lake. This is the largest lake in the well field and is just across the fence from Ohio Route 4, east of Harshman Road. Eagle Lake is where the juveniles will hone their hunting skills over the next several weeks.

I find it reassuring to see this familiar transition to his new pattern taking place. The last several months have been demanding on Jim and Cindy. Any parent can relate to the demands of caring for infants and toddlers. But they are now entering a time when the young ones are growing in ability, self-reliance and independence (another pattern) which means less stress for Mom and Dad.

Lisa has even reported seeing both adults and at least one of the juveniles along Eagle Lake! Juveniles are much harder to spot especially from a passing car traveling at 60 miles per hour. Even though they are the same size as the adults and their distinctive, upright posture is hard to mistake if they are perched atop a tree, without the bright white head and tail feathers of Mom and Dad they blend into the background when they are perched somewhere lower.

Past patterns have proven that the juveniles will slowly begin to make more and more public appearances around Eagle Lake, eventually crossing Harshman Road to fish the waters of Eastwood. I hope to be able to post additional images of the youngsters soon as I keep you updated on Jim and Cindy’s unfolding adventure.

It is a challenge to relate their annually repetitive story in a new way each year. (Although bare statistics fascinate me, I have found that they bore most people.) That is one reason why I appreciate patterns. They add color, comfort and familiarity to our lives even when they are actually repeating the same thing over and over again and again and again.

Published in: on July 8, 2016 at 12:37 pm  Comments (6)  

Sharing The Joy

Last weekend the second of Jim and Cindy’s two eaglets fledged from the nest. That departure means that the Treetop Palace has successfully finished its faithful service for another year. Jim and Cindy have now escorted the novice flyers deeper into the secluded confines of the well field just as they do every year at this time. For the next few weeks the busy parents will continue to bring food to the pair while their youngsters master the art of flying and learn to hunt on their own. For now, the nest is idle and silent.

Then, this past Tuesday, I noticed that the lower portion of the aerie has broken loose and is falling away.

Part of the falling portion may be what is left of the Great Blue Heron nest that Jim and Cindy used as a foundation in 2010 when they relocated to this tree. All but the very bottom of the nest blew from the tree on June 30th, a few years ago but our eagles began rebuilding it in early September of that year and it was restored to its full glory by egg-laying time in February. I have seen bored eaglets pull several sticks from the nest in past years and smaller birds like to nest in the lower portion of The Treetop Palace. Whatever the cause of this current issue, I am confident that Jim and Cindy will be able to repair the damage if needed. Life in the wild is wild…and very interesting to watch.

On Wednesday I was able to spend some time at Eastwood with a dozen or so students who were participating in the Raptor Camper program of the Glen Helen Raptor Center. Although the eaglets were no longer in the nest, the campers were able to actually view a real eagle’s nest through my spotting scope and their own binoculars as they learned a bit more about these amazing birds of prey.

An hour before the campers arrived I was privileged to meet with a grandmother and two of her young grandsons. I was quite impressed by the boys’ politeness and obedience. The eldest was eleven and an avid raptor fan. His enthusiasm reminded me of my own love for birds as a youngster. As we talked about Jim and Cindy’s history and habits, Cindy decided to make an appearance overhead. After making a few circles a couple of hundred feet away from our position she headed back into the well field.

The young man was thrilled (as was his grandmother and I)! The whole encounter made me realize again what a blessing it is to finally have eagles gracing the skies of Dayton again and how much things have changed since I was a child fruitlessly searching the skies, hoping to see our national symbol pass by. The events also renewed my appreciation for those parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and other loving adults who invest their time and efforts in nurturing a love for wildlife in the children of today. So many boys and girls are growing up adrift in a virtual world of animated games and missing the thrilling, real-life adventures unfolding just outside their window.

Eagle watching is an excellent way to enjoy just one of those adventures and one of the greatest thrills of that eagle watching is simply meeting people, making new friends and sharing the joy.

Published in: on July 3, 2016 at 8:10 pm  Comments (2)  

It’s Boiling Now

My mother was an amazing woman in so many ways. Dad never made a lot of money but she always found a way to stretch what little we had to insure that my five siblings and myself had what we needed to get by. But Mother abounded in love. She had an endless supply for everyone from her own children to the hobo man knocking on the back door. (For you younger readers, “hobo” is a now nonpolitically correct term for a homeless person. It is an abbreviation of the words “homeward bound” and referred to men who were down on their luck, substance abusers, unemployed, adventurers…or for some other reason wandering from town to town, often travelling by boxcar on their way to wherever and whatever “home” was to them.) Mom never turned a hungry person away without some bit of food. My mother was rich in compassion and we children feasted on her bounty.

What does all this have to do with eagles?

Well, another thing that Mother was rich in was adages. She had a tried and tested saying for every situation and she flung them freely when the need arose. One of her favorite adages was, “A watched pot never boils.” Whenever I was anxiously awaiting something or someone she would throw those words in my direction to draw me away from the window. It was her way of telling me to relax and the allow time to pass.

The memory of her words repeatedly ripped through the air of Eastwood as I have sat and watched our eaglets over the last two weeks. Around 10 weeks of age eaglets are fully feathered and as large as their adult parents. They technically may have the capability to fly but they lack the coordination, muscle tone, experience and confidence to leave the nest successfully. I have read that the window for fledging the nest is around age 70 to 92 days. Our oldest eaglets typically fledge around 84 to 86 days after hatching with their  younger siblings following suit a few days later (near their 84th to 86th day.) That first flight is the major hurdle in a young eagle’s life and I always grow impatient as I wait for the time to pass. So there I sat at the park watching the pot refuse to boil.

I knew things were progressing in that direction though. Jim and Cindy were now seldom seen in the nest. A careful search of the well field might reveal one or both of them atop a nearby tree. Food delivery to the youngsters had grown more random and less frequent as Mom and Dad seemed to encourage hunger to be a motivator for flight. Jim had begun to visit his favorite off-season perch again and Cindy (looking a bit dirty and tattered from her mothering duties) was seen passing over Eastwood with a pesky Eastern Kingbird escort.

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The youngsters were also showing signs of restlessness. Often they would play in the air above the Treetop Palace strengthening their muscles and skills in short vertical flights to nowhere. Like children forced to share a bedroom, the massive nest had grown too small for their compatibility and they were using their newfound branching abilities to get away from one another.

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Each morning I counted the days since they had hatched. One by one those days passed by and the water in the pot grew hotter. I tried to heed Mother’s words but, now that I think of it, I wasn’t too good at it back then either. Monday was day 84. Tuesday was day 85. Today was day 86 and when I arrived at Eastwood this morning I saw this!

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A lone eaglet in the nest! Was the other one hiding in the branches? Not that I could see. Then I saw Mom or Dad deliver a fish to the nest and fly off, twice! In years past I have noticed that after one eaglet fledges from the aerie Jim or Cindy will take food to the nest as if to keep the remaining eaglets occupied while they watch over the novice flyer. And they will watch over it, bringing food to wherever it perches and encouraging it to fly again. Sometimes a recently fledged eaglet will end up on the ground and have difficulty getting airborne again. This situation can prove deadly for the young eagle as it is vulnerable to predators and parasites. An intervening human approaching the grounded youngster will be severely chastised by the protective adults. Sometimes the youngster will find a suitable perch and remain there for a day or so before trying to fly again, eventually making its way back to the nest. I will let you know how successful this year’s fledging process has been as it progresses and I can verify the results.

For now I have to decide if the “pot” is half empty or half full but that is a whole other adage. Slowly the days have passed and I smile as I realize that somehow our Dayton eagles have stayed true to that fledging window again. I have no idea if other nests are so consistent or not but Jim and Cindy simply amaze me. And Mom, if you’re watching this proverbial pot, it’s boiling now!

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Published in: on June 23, 2016 at 2:10 am  Comments (12)  

“Ations” Are Mighty Funny Things

Watching Jim and Cindy’s Treetop Palace from half a mile away has its limitations. Limitations cause frustrations. Frustrations lead to consternation. Consternation craves consolation. Consolation brings appreciation. Appreciation explodes into exaltation!

And so I burst forth in praise when I finally was able to clearly see this!

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I was watching Cindy and one eaglet sharing a snack over a period of several minutes when wing-stretching in the back of the aerie drew my attention to the second (yet unnoticed) eaglet! Weeks ago I had watched both parents simultaneously feeding hatchlings on opposite sides of the nest but on subsequent visits only one eaglet was visible. I knew that by now both eaglets should be large enough to be clearly seen on the rim of the nest but I also knew that if they are not eating our watching for Mom and Dad then they are sleeping. Therefore I was never sure if the single eaglet in my viewfinder was the same eaglet I had seen previously. Those problems would be less likely to occur if I was closer than that half mile distance. Hence the whole limitation to consternation scenario.

Eaglets around the country have faced some pretty scary predicaments this year. Everything from manmade threats like fishing line entanglement to natural threats like owls that go bump in the night. The challenges to survival have always claimed too many first year eaglets but with the proliferation of eagle-cams we are now more aware of these challenges. Hence the consolation to exaltation segment of the scenario when I saw both eaglets at once.

Isn’t it strange how some “ations” work? Take anticipation for instance. Time moves so s-l-o-w-l-y as we impatiently await something but as we look back on the much-anticipated event that seems to have just happened yesterday, we are hit with the realization (There’s another one!) that years have flown by.

Speaking of flying by, seeing a sight like this:

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is always a cause for celebration!

Those “ations” are mighty funny things!

Published in: on May 26, 2016 at 3:40 pm  Comments (16)