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.
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.
Virgil T. Vulture
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.
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.
“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.
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!”
“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.
“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!”
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.
You know, maybe I spend just a little too much time alone.