Feathers, Flight and Freedom

It has been an exciting few days and I would love to tell you all about it, but this one will take some time.

You see, as the Bald Eagle population continues to recover and eagles reclaim land that has been eagleless for decades, there are bound to be more unfortunate encounters between eagles and objects, automobiles and troubled human beings. Those encounters may leave an eagle in need of some life-saving care. When those occasions arrive the sick or injured bird is often rescued by a caring individual and taken to a local facility dedicated to the restoration and rehabilitation of injured wildlife. There are many of these facilities across the nation. Most are quite small and may serve only as a triage center for severely injured birds. Others are somewhat larger and able to provide more aggressive emergency medical care and even long term rehabilitation. A very few are even larger facilities with extensive grounds, educational arms and a mission to promote wildlife conservation to everyday Americans.

But they all have one thing in common. They are staffed with very dedicated people, many of whom are volunteers. It is to these kind-hearted vessels of restoration across our country that I dedicate this posting.

A couple of postings ago I mentioned a man named Mike who had rescued a first-year juvenile Bald Eagle in the Dayton area. This is the rest of the story as I understand it.

The 8-month old bird was in dire straits. It was severely malnourished and very weak. While hiking not far from his home Mike discovered the youngster on the ground near an abandoned building. He phoned his wife and before long the two of them had recovered the bird with the use of a blanket. With the precious bundle safely inside a cardboard box they made their way to The Glen Helen Raptor Center in nearby Yellow Springs, Ohio. There the bird was examined and found to be near starvation, dehydrated and suffering from a few other issues. The youngster also has a very slight, right tilt to the descending hook of its upper beak. [Some eagles have severely crossed beaks where the hook of the upper beak overhangs the side of the lower beak making feeding extremely difficult.] The “little” eagle would spend the better part of the next two months in the care of the GHRC staff. Good medical care, a lot of fish and even more TLC began to make a big difference in this once failing and fragile life. (Did I mention a LOT of fish?)

That brings us to last week when I received an email from the raptor center saying that the little guy was ready for release! They were wanting a recommendation for a possible release site. Young eagles need companionship and education to hone their social and hunting skills. It was possible that this particular eagle was not so hot in the hunting department which possibly led to its nutritional issues. (One thing young eagles do not need in human contact and all of the hazards that our inventions can bring. Because they are so social it is easy for eagles to become “imprinted” by human contact. They are opportunistic by nature and can easily become dependent on human provisions. Imprinted birds are often doomed birds because they will eventually approach an non-eagle-friendly person or simply starve. Eagle rehabilitation people take great care in limiting interaction with their patients, some use eagle puppets and other measures to avoid the dangers of the animal becoming too accustomed to human beings.) Since they do not know from what nest this eagle had fledged their desire was to return the bird to an area somewhat near to where it had been found. There are two parks within Montgomery County that have had recent eagle activity, Englewood and Eastwood. But the main Lake at Englewood has dried up the eagles there have moved on. That left Eastwood Lake and Jim and Cindy. Over the years our eagles have been very tolerant of passing juveniles when there are no eggs or eaglets in the nest so I recommended we release him there. Due to a predicted change in the weather to more seasonal temperatures and precipitation, we decide to release the juvenile on Monday afternoon at 2.

(At this point in the story let’s have a little fun! Many of you, most likely most of you, have never taken part in an eagle release and unfortunately probably never will. So let’s change that right now! As you read the rest of this blog put yourself in the story. Grab your jacket and let’s experience the joy of feathers, flight and freedom together!)

It is Monday morning and the sun is shining brightly as we make our way to Eastwood Lake! What a beautiful day for an eagle release! We know that it is still several hours until the 2 o’clock release time but who can sit at home on a day like this? We feel like kids on Christmas morning as the anticipation builds! We run over a mental checklist in our minds as we drive towards the park: We have notified the MetroPark office of our plans. We have confirmed that all systems are go at the raptor center. We have notified the rest of the Eastwood Eagle Watchers group so we can document the activity for everyone. We notified Mike that the eagle he rescued is ready to go. We have our cameras and binoculars. Shoes! Where’s my shoes? I forgot to put on shoes.-OK that last part was just silly. I will have to delete that silliness later.- We are almost at the entrance to the park when our car pulls into McDonald’s for coffee, almost out of habit. Proper nourishment is essential!

As we enter the Eastwood Lake area day has broken and the shroud of night has lifted. A lone buck ambles slowly across the entrance road and heads into the wood to rest for the day. The fresh air flowing into the car through the open windows is invigorating and comforting at the same time. We are struck by the silent calm of the early morning. Even the robins are quiet. As we drive down the road we search the treetops hoping to spot Jim or Cindy on their morning patrol. The branches are bare of leaves and eagles. “How will they react to this juvenile?” we wonder. We drive slowly to the back corner of the lake where a lone Great Blue Heron stands motionless, ankle-deep in the lagoon. The sunbeams cast long shadows across the placid water and we stop for a moment just to cherish the scene.

We drive back to the front of the park and stop the car, turn off the motor and open up our coffees. Aaaaah.

From here we can view Jim and Cindy working on the Treetop Palace 1/2 mile away. Just a stick or two for now but in a few weeks it will become their obsession! We spend the next several hours in conversation, observation and anticipation. You are wondering what to expect. “You know,” I explain, “some of the larger raptor facilities maintain their own hacking towers. They are large platforms on tall legs that are used to release rehabilitated eagles. Some are quite elaborate with wooden enclosures that allow the eagle to better acclimate to its surroundings before being released. The doors of the some enclosures can be opened remotely so the eagle has even less human exposure. These hacking towers are in remote locations, as far from people as possible. Other releases are not so impressive. Most groups simply remove the eagle from its transport crate, uncover its eyes and toss it into the air. Since young eagles sometimes struggle to get airborne from the ground, the use of an elevated platform, even if it is just a few feet high, will help.”

Before long our cups are empty and our bladders are full. As we walk to the restroom facility farther down the lake we notice how still the air is. (A little breeze would be a helpful thing for the freed bird.) We also note that the local residents are beginning to stir. A groundhog munches away on a hillside as if he has heard the weather forecast for more seasonal temperatures later in the week. The once silent robins are singing and chasing each other from tree to tree. The Canada Geese are “redecorating” the pavement in front of us and part like a honking Red Sea as we approach. Near the water’s edge a Belted Kingfisher scolds us for disturbing his concentration. We smile.

The hours quickly pass and it is 1:30! We see Roger’s familiar Jeep enter the park. Soon Lisa, Crystal and others arrive. We notice a group of four cars that have parked in the small lot 100 feet to the west and walk that way. We discover that this is Mike, his wife and a couple of his friends who have come to see the release. We complete a round or two of introductions and enjoy some pleasant conversation until we notice the vehicle from Glen Helen entering the park. Show time!

As Betty, Rebecca and Kyle emerge from the car, your eyes, like the eyes of the rest of those waiting, are drawn to the large, sheet-draped crate in the back. After another brief round of introductions Betty asks, “Have you seen the adults today?” We relate a little of the short nest-building sighting from earlier, then the conversation quickly turns. “Where should we do this?” The obvious answer is in the open lawn/meadow area in the middle of the park, farthest away from any traffic, with the lake on the north and The Mad River to the south. We hastily relocate to that area. Kyle and Rebecca carefully remove the large crate, still covered, from the back of the vehicle and place it on top of the large concrete picnic table nearby in hopes that even that slight elevation may help the youngster out. At this point the anticipation spreads like an epidemic as witnessed by the smiles on each face as we position ourselves behind, and well to the side of the veiled treasure chest before us. With cameras ready and hearts stopped the moment has arrived.

Kyle does the honors.

The sheet is whisked away. The box shakes from within. The top of a dark brown feathered head can be seen moving past the side vents and heading toward the wire door. The latch is raised, the door is pulled fully open and without a moment’s hesitation feathers, flight and freedom!


One huge step followed by one long lunge!


The lunge.

At one point his wingtips brush the blades of grass and his head is all but hidden between his dark, majestic wings. Even though the grass is short the blades move with the impact of the air beneath those massive wings.


Lawn mower.

The camera shutters sing a triumphant hymn as a few more powerful flaps add a little altitude to his flight path and we cheer him on!


Gaining altitude.

In just a few seconds he is 10 feet in the air and moving gracefully. He gains another 10 feet, banks left and then right and heads for a large tree in the center of the green space. There he lands on a suitable limb and looks back at us with gratitude and attitude. Our hearts begin beating again.


Attitude of gratitude.

And there he stays looking quite pleased with himself and a little surprised. I look at you and your expression says it all. How many people ever get to witness something like this? What a privilege! What a blessing!

Slowly we move a bit closer to admire this wonder of Creation. The strength, power and grace in these young wings is simply breathtaking. As we watch from a respectable distance we join in the conversation around us. We are all amazed and grateful. The young eagle has done all the work of the last few moments but we are glad to have played a small part in it. “What now?” you ask. We don’t know. It is totally up to the that guy up in the tree. Wildlife is wild. It does what it does without asking for our consent. I have seen videos of some released adults that fly over the distant trees and on to parts unknown. The juvenile releases I have personally witnessed are pretty much like this one: a short flight followed by a long perch. This eagle was well fed before its release so the motivation of hunger is a day away. If it sees another eagle pass by it will likely join it for a little social interaction. It may be chased from its perch by a small murder of crows or an angry Red-Tailed Hawk. (Indeed the local Red-Tail passed over the tree shortly after the eagle’s arrival to the perch, so it is already aware of his presence here.) Adults don’t seem too agitated by protesting birds but juveniles are not so confident in their power and standing. Personally, knowing that all migrating birds have an internal GPS system, I believe that the uncaged juvies need time to reset the system and get their bearings.


Regal eagle.

So there he sits and there we stand. Slowly the crowd begins to dwindle. A few park goers are drawn to the activity and each of them are amazed at the sheer size of the eagle. Each one wants to snap an image on their cell phone. Each one has questions. So many questions. There are people of different social and racial groups but they are all curious. Isn’t it interesting how nature brings people together.


Always watching.

We stand there trying to capture every moment of this opportunity knowing that at any second he may spread his wings and end this encounter. We are also aware of the young eagle’s vulnerability as it sits low in this tree in a public park. Some animals can be nighttime threats to a young eagle but our greater concern is for the dangers of negative human intervention. How anyone can hurt one of these birds is beyond me and even though it is a federal offense to disturb them, it happens. A well meaning person may think this eagle in its uncommon perch is in need of assistance. And so we linger as shadows grow longer and darkness grows deeper.


Pretty bird.

Just before nightfall as we get back into the car and begin the ride out of the park and we realize that we haven’t eaten since we arrived here this morning. We take one final look back at the juvenile still perched low in the tree and looking so alone. Will he be there in the morning? I don’t know about him but we will be back when the park reopens.


Overnight perch.

Early the next morning we arrive to find the park gate already open. Even before we make the turn into the park we can see the distinctive silhouette on the same limb of that tree. We make a quick loop around the park and see no other eagles. When we arrive at the tree we find the early riser awake but fluffed up as protection from the damp air and looking more like a small-eyed owl than an eagle.


Small-eyed owl?

Anticipation still hangs heavy in the dewy air. He will likely get hungry soon and Jim or Cindy may pass by anytime. This promises to be another exciting day. As we sit and watch it seems like the local wildlife is anticipating something too. A pair of Pileated Woodpeckers land in the tree a few branches above the eagle as if to provide an appropriate drumroll for the event.


Little drummergirl.

About an hour later the local Red-Tailed Hawk makes another appearance, this time flying through the tree and passing above the eagle as if to say, “Enough already!”



More people stop by to admire the youngster as we encourage them to maintain a respectable distance between them and the eagle. Since the moment that he landed in this tree he has been acutely aware of everything passing overhead. Every passing gull gets his undivided attention. Even airliners high in the sky are carefully inspected as they pass by. This morning we find that one of the large, metal birds known as a C17 from the local Air Force base is rumbling overhead and the juvie becomes agitated by each pass. When there is nothing to watch he becomes bored and starts pulling on the nearest twig just to pass the time.


Fidgety twig pulling.

By late morning a different crowd is gathering. They are all short, wear black and white helmets and quite noisy in their own right. And they have goosebumps, Canada Goosebumps.


The crowd has Goosebumps.

The anticipation is building and the eagle is getting more fidgety in the tree.

Mike the Rescuer returns. (Sounds like a superhero and he kind of is.) A MetroParks ranger pulls up and gets out of his cruiser. (Ususally not a good thing.) He too has come to admire the large bird making us aware again of what a rare blessing this is. He kindly offers to provide barricades to close the road near the tree if we would like but we know this little guy is getting antsy and hungry and will not likely be here long. Occasionally he looks as if he is about to take off but then settles down again apparently changing his mind (making me think that maybe this bird is a female after all).



In the early afternoon the activity escalates. The restlessness increases. Periods of rest are shortening and the youngster is flexing and stretching more often. First the left wing and leg and then the right. Long, intentional stretches. But he is always, always searching the skies.

IMG_6288et2Ss - Copy


Just after 1 o’clock the pacing and shuffling becomes stronger. When he seems to offer us a fist bump it seems that he has made up his mind.


Fist bump.

Then for a moment we could swear he is giving us the OK sign with his right foot!



He could have just been scratching his head but it sure looked like an OK sign to me. And then, using the same foot he begins counting down…from 4!


The countdown.

Four, three, two, one…GO!



At 1:12 PM he releases his perch of 23 hours and takes to the air! We spontaneously cheer again! The Night Before Christmas contains the line, “More rapid than eagles his coursers they flew.” That was Clemet C. Moore’s way of saying “really, really, REALLY fast.” With great strength and determination he heads not to the lake for food but straight into the well field for companionship. I believe that he had seen one of our eagles over Eagle Lake and wanted to join in the fun. By the time we get into my car and drive to the east end of Eastwood Lake the youngster is over half a mile away.

It is over.

Just like that.

We pause for a few minutes to let the moment sink in. Will we see him again? Will Jim and Cindy and their juvie accept him? Will he be better able to feed himself now? We are grateful that his slightly off-plumb beak will make him easier to recognize.

As we leave the lake we notice Jim flying low over Eagle Lake. He lands in the top of a tall tree as if to gain a better view of his domain which means that he and the juvenile have met. But with what result? As we drive away we are full of new questions. Hopefully time will tell how the story continues and we will learn more about what happens when feathers, flight and freedom unite.

Published in: on November 19, 2015 at 2:14 am  Comments (31)  

Something In The Air

The changing of the seasons touches me.

I am one of those people who anticipate the new season’s arrival as the current season grows older. During the cold, dark days of winter I look forward to the warmth of spring. As spring’s budding leaves grow larger I await the coolness of their shaded recesses in the hot, humid air of summer. As summer wears on I become eager to experience autumn’s brief explosion of color and renewed freshness. And after the leaves have fallen I find myself excited by the first snowfall of winter and the glistening beauty of the blanketed landscapes beyond my frosty windows.

The windowsill of our living room’s bay window is redecorated as the seasons change and so with fall’s arrival it takes on a colorful, festive theme.

Our autumn window.

Our autumn window.

Not everyone appreciates my feeble attempt to capture indoors a bit of the magic of the quarterly transitions. My eldest daughter saw the newly decorated window and lamented, “Oh great, I see that autumn has thrown up in our living room again.”

But the changing seasons also bring new opportunities to view the wonders of nature and the wildlife that dwells therein. Fallen leaves mean barren branches and increased visibility of the birds that inhabit the trees. Jim and Cindy’s Treetop Palace is now hard to miss in the well field’s landscape. And, right on cue, our local eagles are beginning to bring in new sticks to freshen up the place as they start to anticipate a new nesting season! By January they will be spending most of their days enlarging the aerie.

Autumn is also the onset of courting season when Jim and Cindy will become increasingly obsessed with the companionship of their mate. Whether perched side by side on a leafless limb, soaring together in broad circles across the skies or tumbling earthward while locked talon to talon, courting season is an amazing time to be an eagle in love. But instinct-driven behavior also means that young, pair-bonded couples are looking for nesting territories of their own so Jim and Cindy have once again begun their daily patrols of their domain to assure that their boundaries are respected.

In late September I had spent an early morning at Eastwood Lake watching the wildlife and looking for our elusive eagles. As I was leaving the park, a dark form glided across my path. Even before I could focus my eyes my pulse quickened and I began to smile. This was a very familiar form. It was like catching a distant glimpse of an old friend, recognizing them at once and being flooded with remembrances and emotions. I watched as he approached the tower at the northeast corner of the lake, turned to his left and landed in the remnants of his favorite tree in that corner.

Tower and Power!

Tower and Power!

This too was familiar for this has been his morning patrol route for years. Although half of the tree had fallen in a spring storm, this perch provides a clear view of Eastwood Lake. For several minutes Jim sat and surveyed his surroundings as small gusts of wind ruffled his feathers.

Feathered Beauty.

Feathered Beauty.

Then, assured that all was well at the lake, he released his perch and skirted the treetops along the northern shore as he headed west. About mid-way down the length of the lake he turned north and disappeared beyond the treetops continuing his usual route.

(Speaking of “usual routes”, the reconstruction of the Harshman Road bridge across The Mad River begins in earnest this Monday, November 16th. Although traffic will be maintained throughout the two-year project, it will be reduced to one lane in each direction and congestion will be a headache. During this past summer utilities have been relocated and preliminary work completed for the project that will include the demolition of the existing structure. The new bridge will feature a wider roadway and new left-turn lanes as well as a pedestrian/bicycle path that will better connect Eastwood Park south of the river to Eastwood Lake north of the river. Access to both parks may be compromised at times so I have already scoped out some parking areas within about a 1/2 mile walking distance of the park in hopes of keeping an eye on our eagles. Although the work is only about 1/4 mile from the nest and over one of their primary hunting areas, Jim and Cindy are fairly accustomed to construction vehicles and the associated noise. I have talked to some of the workers just to make them aware of the eagles’ presence in the area.)

The seasonal change is impossible to miss. The holidays of autumn and winter bring times with family and friends and a chance to remember those people and things that warm our hearts and homes. As I count my blessings this month, you are among them. Thank you all for following along on this adventure. Whether it is a new freshness, falling leaves, a cold chill, the aroma of baking pies or the familiar, gliding form of dark feathers, may you smile with every realization that there is something in the air!

Published in: on November 10, 2015 at 1:00 pm  Comments (18)  

But Not Always

It has been a while since I have posted. My life has been busy. Too busy. Plus we are still in that lull between fledging eaglets and courting adults so there has not been much to post about.

To update you on Jim and Cindy’s status, let’s just say that all is well. Mom, Dad and the 2015 baby are enjoying the solitude of the deep recesses of the well field. The good folks there are keeping an eye out for any problems that might pop up and we appreciate their attentiveness to our resident eagles.

But this is also the time when eagles roam across the Buckeye State (I love saying that!) and we have had a few interesting encounters with the wanders.

A first-year juvenile was found grounded near Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark in north Dayton. The youngster was recovered by a caring gentleman named Mike who took the bird to The Glen Helen Raptor Center. Upon its arrival the director emailed me to see if it was Jim and Cindy’s eaglet which I assured her it was not. She told me that the eagle had a crossed beak and was undernourished.  Thank you Mike for caring enough to take the time to get involved and to make a difference in the wild life of this bit of wildlife.

Englewood MetroPark saw a short, albeit interesting visit by a number of juveniles of various ages and a few young adult birds. The lake there is rather small and tends to be very shallow when it holds any water at all. (I have explained in a previous post about the 5 dams that protect Dayton from devastating floods by retaining floodwaters in lakes and releasing it back into the rivers at a controlled rate.) For several weeks these wanderers fished from the lake and thrilled the small groups of watchers and shutterbugs that dotted the shoreline.

On one visit I watched a large, young-adult bird sitting in a tree for almost an hour. After some very intense preening it began to search the shallow waters of the lake in for a tasty fish. Before long she left the branch and made a swift, low approach towards her target. Eagles are very graceful and focused hunters and appear almost effortless in their snatching of a fish from just beneath the water surface and this approach was done with textbook precision. Her long glide was soon accompanied by extended legs and flared talons. I focused my camera on the eagle hoping to capture an image or two of the successful catch. (What I saw through my viewfinder surprised me and made me moan before I laughed out loud.) The eagle had obviously done this all before and was a real expert at the whole process. Just as she had anticipated her razor-sharp talons pierced the water. Just as she had anticipated those talons locked into her large, orange-colored prey. Just as she had anticipated her talons lifted up behind her as she flew onward.

Oops! Face plant.


Just as she anticipated the heavy fish stuck in the mire enough to cause her to lose her forward momentum and forcing the majestic eagle to do a face plant into the water creating a very Osprey-like splash.

The Osprey-like splash.

The Osprey-like splash.

(OK, maybe the last part was not at all what she anticipated.) As I snapped pictures the eagle disappeared into the muddy spray that the few inches of water supplied. As she emerged from the splash she reappraised her situation as she looked around as if to see if anyone had been watching. After a brief period of recomposing herself she decided that she would simply fly her prey back to her perch but the weight of the fish, the pull of the mud and the weight of her water soaked feathers thwarted that effort as well.

Failed takeoff.

Failed takeoff.

Again she appeared a bit surprised and bewildered. After all, that had always worked before. Again she tried to get her prey airborne with no success.

One more try.

One more try.

Time for Plan B: swim. (Eagles with large catches will often swim their way to shore using their wings in large, overhand strokes.) But this eagle soon learned that successful swimming using large, overhand strokes requires a bit more than a few inches of water.

Attempting to swim.

Attempting to swim.

After some awkward splashing she abandoned Plan B as well. Time for Plan C. She sat in the water for about 5 more minutes trying desperately to remember just what Plan C was as the fish splashed in the water beside her, eventually deciding that there really was no Plan C.

Bewildered and out of ideas.

Bewildered and out of ideas.

Releasing her prey she reluctantly flew back to her tree, slightly embarrassed, a bit wiser, hungry and emptied-taloned.

"Oh forget it!"

“Oh forget it!”

Eagles are very graceful and talented hunters, but not always.

Published in: on October 14, 2015 at 12:26 pm  Comments (8)  

The Wonders of Flight

Dayton, Ohio is all about the wonders of flight. The Wright Bothers were the right brothers to put us on the map. As a native Daytonian that thought is never far from my mind. Wilbur and Orville discovered how to lift men aloft in a heavier-than-air flying machine. Now that was no small task as men had struggled to conquer the dynamics of powered flight for centuries. Geniuses like Da Vinci had failed to develop the correct concepts of thrust, lift, drag and others that these two Dayton brothers applied to their machines. As wonderful as their world-changing discoveries were, Will and Orv did not invent flight. Our feathered friends have been soaring for ages!

Flight, in all of its mystery, comes quite naturally for birds.

I am a window-seat flyer. Flight fascinates me and whether crossing the Atlantic, Pacific or The Rockies, I spend hours peering down watching for wildlife and admiring the ocean waves, creviced peaks or patchwork fields steadily passing by. Each snaking river, wandering highway or sprawling city is a clue to our location and often I imagine how these are the sights that the eagles see as they soar in the skies. But eagles share these skies with many other sojourners.

Jim and Cindy are enjoying those views on their annual post-nesting season sabbatical. They do show up in the well field every now and then but not for long. This lull in eagle activity always leaves me in a bit of a quandary as to what to share on this blog. This year I have decided to share this space with some of those other flying sojourners, the tiniest of all birds, the hummingbird.

The most common hummingbird in Ohio is the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. Weighing only .07 to .21 of an ounce it would take over a thousands of these little wonders to equal the weight of one eagle! And what wonders they are. With over 900 feathers these little dynamos are powered by tiny hearts that beat up to 1,260 beats per minutes to power wings that beat around 53 times per second and twice each year our hummers travel the skies between Dayton and Central America!

Roger has a little male that calls his place home and is known as Bubba. Without having any recent eagle pictures to share, I thought that you might enjoy a few of Roger’s images of Bubba, Mrs. Bubba and their little ones along with a little light verse to celebrate their beauty.



The Wonders of Hummers



The humming song sung by tiny wings, the smiles that they always bring,



the flash of color darting by from bloom to bloom under sunlit skies,


as they kiss the flowers from dawn’s first light ’til the sunlight yields to the still of night


one of the sweetest sounds  that in summer is heard is the wordless song of the hummingbird!


Pretty amazing birds, pretty amazing images. I just had to share a few of these with you.

As Labor Day is upon us, autumn cannot be far behind, and behind the burst of colors will be falling leaves and better eagle viewing so I hope to be able to share more about much larger birds soon.

Whether on tiny feathered wings, giant feathered wings or manmade wings of cloth or metal, it is fun to be carried away by the wonders of flight.

Published in: on August 31, 2015 at 1:47 am  Comments (8)  

Eagles of Inspiration

(I awakened at 2AM last night with this little poem rattling around in my head and since all of that rattling made it hard to sleep, I took 20 minutes to write it down. I thought that I would share it with all of you.)

Eagles of Inspiration
by Jim Weller


A single eagle atop a tree
speaks of many things to me.
I see a sentinel brave and strong
perched up high where he belongs.
Diligent throughout the day
aware of all that comes his way,
with eyes alert, he views the skies
for any threat that might pass by.


A pair of eagles in a tree
speaks of other truths to me.
I see a bond that none may shake
and only death itself dare break!
Devoted to each other so,
yet year by year devotion grows,
through every trial that they share
in togetherness and mutual care.


But a pair of eagles on the wing
makes my heart both laugh and sing!
Together, high up in the air,
they soar along without a care.
In unfettered freedom by and by
they dance their way across the sky
until, at last, as I strain to see,
they’re absorbed into its azure sea.

What a blessing to behold
this sight more valuable than gold,
this sight that sets my spirit free
to be what I was meant to be!
It snaps harsh tethers of earthly care
and sends me high into the air!

We’re designed by God to be so much more,
with hearts to watch, and love, and soar!

Published in: on August 18, 2015 at 7:27 pm  Comments (24)  

After The Nests Are Empty

Well, now what?

The eaglets in our area of the country have fledged their nests and are now hunting on their own. So you may be wondering what happens next? The youngsters are free to roam where they desire but will likely stay close to Mom and Dad and the familiarity of home, at least for a while. It has been our experience that juveniles from the previous years may pass through the area and even visit the old crib. As they do so they will often interact with Jim and Cindy and their new sibling. A few weeks ago that encounter would have been much different as Mom and Dad were in no mood to have a potential predator in the vicinity of this year’s vulnerable eaglet and would have chased the returning juvenile away.

Last Friday Jim and Cindy’s 2015 eaglet was slowly circling in the sky over the well field.

This year's eaglet.

This year’s eaglet.

I had watched it from a distance for some time before I noticed one of the adults (I believe it was Jim) soaring high above the youngster. (Not all eagle watching is “up close and personal”, in fact 90% of it is anything but.)

Jim up high.

Jim up high, near the right tip of the cloud.

Slowly both birds drifted higher and farther away and eventually I lost track of them in the blue of the sky. About 30 minutes had passed when I noticed a large bird flying a hundred feet or so to my right. It had emerged from behind the trees between my car and Eastwood Lake and was flying rapidly toward the well field. At first glance it looked to be a large, immature Red-Tailed Hawk, but a second glance made me realize that this bird’s wings were too long for a Red-Tail. I could only see it as flew directly away from me until it turned enough to glimpse a side view of the bird. It was not a hawk but a juvenile Bald Eagle! Now, it had come from the west but the juvie I had just watched soaring with Jim had vanished into the eastern sky. If you have ever been eagle watching you know that they can be tricky characters. They can gain altitude, tuck their wings and glide rapidly to anywhere they want as if they were gliding along an invisible zip line. Plus, 30 minutes had passed so I assumed that this juvenile streaking past me was that same youngster. But with its turn came the realization that this bird was a one-year-old and quite possibly one of Jim and Cindy’s 2014 eaglets. After it turned it continued to fly towards me as I continued to snap pictures.

2014 eaglet.

2014 eaglet.

In a matter of seconds it became apparent that it was going to pass directly over my car, and since I was still in the driver’s seat of that car, the car’s roof would soon become an obstacle for my long camera lens. So there I was, opening the door, exiting the car and focusing straight up at the moving target above me in the bright sunshine! The eagle was maybe 50 or 60 feet in the air as it passed over my car and I was zoomed out to the full 600mm position, and I was moving as well. That is not the best combination of conditions for a clear image but boy was it fun!

2014 overhead.

2014 overhead.

I continued to shoot as it passed back over the lake and then dipped behind some trees.

2014 departing.

2014 departing.

The amount of white on the underside of the wings and across its chest along with the obvious molting of its feathers were a good indication of its age. This could be one of Jim and Cindy’s two surviving 2014 eaglets or just a wandering juvenile but after a quick loop over Eastwood Lake it crossed back over Harshman Road to the well field where it disappeared into the treetops near the nest. It’s intentional approach to the nesting area made it appear that it was in very familiar territory.

Then today I was watching again as this year’s eaglet was flying over Eastwood Lake. It made several circles as if it was fishing as it drifted farther west, but it did not seem to be watching the water.

2015 eaglet.

2015 eaglet.

Before long I was surprised to see a second juvenile flying over the lake from a different direction, slightly higher in the sky. This bird’s missing tail feathers identified it as the same juvenile I had seen on Friday. It took a playful dive at the first bird and for a few seconds they swooped and turned and presented their talons to each other.

2014 diving at 2015.

2014 diving at 2015.

The younger bird briefly pursued the older one before they separated and flew off in different directions.

2015 chasing 2014.

2015 chasing 2014.

I managed to catch images before and after their encounter but missed most of the interaction. Imagine my happiness when I looked down the road to see Roger with his big lens aimed out at the water! I hadn’t known that he was even in the area.

This is a bit of what he captured of the event.

2014 and 2015 mix it up a bit.

2014 and 2015 mix it up a bit.

Talk to the talon Sis!

Talk to the talon Sis!

Here is one more image from Roger’s big lens. This year’s juvenile is on the upper left and last year’s juvenile is on the lower right. Notice the differences in their coloring. The older bird has more white on its chest and wings and shows more yellow on its beak. Now look at the shape of the wings and tails. The younger bird has a nice, straight trailing edge on both while the older bird has some longer and some shorter feathers creating an uneven look plus it is obviously missing some feathers. Eagles shed feathers as new ones sprout in a process known as molting. The initial feathers of an eaglet are longer than subsequent feathers which is why the older bird looks more ragged. The remaining longer feathers will eventually fall out and by its second year it will appear less ragged. The coloration will continue to change with future molts and the beak will become more yellow. During it’s third year some white feathers will appear on its head and tail and by the fourth year the white head will seem dirty looking due to the presence of the remaining dark feathers and the white tail may show a darker band near the trailing edge. The mature 5th year bird will have the iconic, brilliant yellow beak and eyes along with the bright white head and tail.

Wonderful comparison shot!

Wonderful comparison shot!

Late summer and autumn can be a great time to eagle watch as nomadic juveniles roam about and young adult pairs look for territory. The air will soon begin to grow cool and crisp and the leaves will turn and fall. Some of the best eagle watching opportunities of the year arrive after the nests are empty.

Published in: on August 4, 2015 at 5:13 am  Comments (8)  

Too Long in the Shade

It is midsummer in Ohio and the weather knows it! Today was one of those hot, steamy days where stepping out of my air-conditioned car instantly made my glasses fog up and my body erupt with perspiration. The heat reflecting off of the asphalt almost singed my nostrils as I inhaled and penetrated the soles of my shoes with each step. The thermometer read over 90 degrees and the humidity seemed to match that number. Just a typical midsummer day.

It was so hot that I did something atypical. After picking up a lite sandwich for lunch I decided not to dine in my usual place at the sun-drenched east end of Eastwood Lake where the eagle watching is a less obstructed. Well, more truthfully, I was heading back to my usual spot when the shade of a small tree a few hundred feet further west whispered my name with an alluring coolness in its voice. I parked in its island of darkness, took one final breath of air-conditioned comfort, rolled down the windows and turned off the car.

The usually bustling park was nearly empty today. Even the fishermen had stayed home reasoning that the cold-blooded fish were too smart to approach the heated surface of the lake. One lone boat raced around the lake towing a skier behind it. As I began to eat my sandwich I notice that even the songbirds had taken today off. Ruby and Ringo, the resident Red-Tailed Hawks had abandoned their utility pole perches and were probably sitting in the shade themselves, somewhere. In fact, the only avian activity that I could see was a small group of three Turkey Vultures lazily circling on thermals in the distance. As I slowly consumed my lunch, the warm air consumed my thoughts and my ambition, so I sat and watched that small cluster of vultures. I was hoping to see Jim and Cindy’s juvenile today but I was fairly confident that even the thermals could not entice her from the coolness of the well field’s dense foliage.

Slow loop after slow loop the red-headed trio drifted closer. They had now drifted far enough to the south and close enough to my location that the thirsty leaves of the tree above me blocked my view of a portion of each loop and in my head I began to play a little counting game as I watched. In a heat-induced stupor I slowly counted…One. two, three, they disappeared behind the branches. One, two, three, they reappeared again. One, two, three, the branches consumed them once more. One, two, three, four, they finally emerged agai…Wait! Did I see four? Sure enough! A fourth large, dark bird had joined the funeral-parade! But this bird looked different, a bit larger, a bit broader, a more visible head and it drifted on flat wings and lacked the dihedral “V” of its companions. This fourth bird was a juvenile Bald Eagle! (It is amazing how fast a stupor can evaporate!)

Eagle (left) with Turkey Vulture

Eagle (left) with Turkey Vulture

I put down the last bite of my sandwich and started the car. I am sure now that the blast of cold air from the air conditioning must have been refreshing but I failed to notice it at the time. Zipping up to my usual spot and reaching for my camera, I watched the youngster begin to drift to the east, away from me.

As I stopped my car the trio of vultures continued to slide southward so that now their circles and that of the eagle only randomly intersected. For the next forty minutes I sat in my hot car in the direct sunlight and watched our baby prove that she had mastered the art of high altitude soaring!

She's got this!

She’s got this!

Made me smile.

Made me smile.

She was having a ball up there and I was having a ball down here. I watched her as she effortlessly ascended to the clouds, folded her majestic wings and tumbled fifty feet or so before stabilizing herself again.

A high altitude dive!

A high altitude dive!

At one point her circles had brought her back towards my location. “Having her high overhead would allow for a better image than having her high in the distance.” I thought to myself while hoping she would lose a little altitude as she passed. But, unfortunately, as she reached Harshman Road a different pair of Turkey Vultures passed just below her, heading east towards the well field. She swooped at them and then chased them for a minute. By the end of her playtime she had reversed her direction and gracefully drifted farther away.

A playful chase.

A playful chase.

Even when she appeared to be just a tiny spot, gently kissing the clouds she was 100% graceful. Watching her soar so effortlessly made me envious of her ability to do so. Gravity weighs heavily on me at times and today was one of those days. As the juvenile disappeared into the treetops near the nest I realized that I was drenched. In the heat of the moment (pun intended) I had forgotten about the temperature of the air saturating my car’s interior.

As I rolled up the windows and cranked up the air, I started thinking about the past hour. It was uncomfortably hot and I had opted for the soothing shade of that small tree. How long had the baby been flying low over the well field blocked from my view by my desire for comfort. There is a life lesson hiding in there somewhere. There are many hot, sticky periods in life that tend to make us uncomfortable and maybe even irritable. Our natural tendency often moves us to escape the heat and seek the coolness of a comfortable solution. But what wonders we may miss if we stay too long in the shade.

Published in: on July 29, 2015 at 1:38 am  Comments (8)  

The Things You May See

Summer is a fascinating season at Eastwood and this year is proving to be a fascinating summer. Days of monsoon rains in the western half of Ohio have been interrupted by hot, humid days of hazy sunlight. Watching our local eagles has been a real challenge as they have been hiding deep in the safe, remote recesses of their territory and the moisture-laden weather has apparently added to the heaviness of my eyelids.

The heavy precipitation means rapidly moving, muddy river water so avian fishing efforts have been focused mainly on the more tranquil and transparent lakes that pepper the well field’s landscape. Hours of watching and waiting without having much to watch can be taxing. To break up the monotony I will sometimes take a quick drive or stroll around the park. The patches of sundrenched wildflowers in the meadow are exploding with brilliant colors and activity. Goldfinches, House Finches, hummingbirds, Song Sparrows and other feathered creatures feed on the thistle adding to the profusion of colors. Resident mockingbirds add a melodious soundtrack to the virtual fireworks of hues.

Gold in the meadow.

Gold in the meadow.

House finches and thistles.

House Finches and thistles.

Listen to the Mockingbird.

Listen to the Mockingbird.

Along the Mad River, in the shaded coolness of the heavy, woody foliage, is where the larger wildlife is often hiding. That was where during a quiet moment of gazing upon yet another wildflower garden a bit of movement drew my attention as a young doe slowly raised her head and curiously peered at me through the blooms.

A surprise among the wildflowers.

A surprise among the wildflowers.

We watched each other for at least fifteen minutes. I was captivated by her eyes. She was questioning my intentions. She still wore a few fading fawn spots on her back and her actions seemed somewhat familiar to me. She silently watched me for a few moments with her ears independently rotating like two radar installations as she searched for audible clues. The wind was squarely at my back so I knew she was catching my scent as well. After a brief pause she cautiously advanced a few steps before pausing again to repeat the process.

I believe I will call her

I believe I will call her “Wildflower.”

Could this have been the little fawn that I had mentioned encountering in a post in the spring of 2014? She had walked slowly from her mother’s side inspecting my presence in much the same manner. That young fawn had crept to within just a few feet of me before her mother’s stomping foot called her back. This time her cautious advances had moved her to around 40 feet from me before the pausing of a passing car caused her to flee.

Just before she fled.

Just before she fled.

On a subsequent visit to this same secluded wildflower patch I found the big Eastwood buck, velveted antlers and all, foraging among the greenery. He too carefully studied my presence but made no attempt to move towards me.

Eastwood's big buck.

Eastwood’s big buck.

After a few minutes of staring at my camera and shutter-clatter-induced ear twitching he returned to his foraging, slowly and casually dissolving into the trees, apparently assured that I was no threat.

But I had come, as always, to watch eagles and no matter how patient and attentive I remained, there were just no eagles to watch. Not on this day anyway. It has been over a month since Jim and Cindy’s lone 2015 eaglet had fledged and I ached to know of its success.

That is why I was elated when I received a message from our fellow eagle watcher, Lisa. As she was driving down Route 4 she had passed by Cindy and her youngster! The two eagles were perched in a tree that we have become very familiar with near the southeast corner of Eagle Lake. We have long called this particular tree “Jim’s Tree”. If Jim has some free time on his talons he will quite frequently perch in this tree to watch the setting sun as he surveys his lake. The sighting of the youngster constituted enough of an “emergency” that Lisa pulled to the shoulder of the highway long enough to quickly snap a few images from some distance away.

Cindy and her baby.

Cindy and her baby.

As she watched, the juvie flew from the tree to the lake, gracefully grabbed a fish and flew to a utility pole for dinner! (Well that answered that question. The youngster is fishing like a pro!)

After the successful catch. (I hate it when they land here.)

After the successful catch. (I hate it when they land here.)

Now, two final observations: Judging by the relative size of the juvenile as it was perched by Cindy, I am guessing she is a she. And although perching on any utility pole is a potentially disastrous thing to do, novice fliers, or more precisely novice landers, seem to prefer the uncluttered crossarms of these poles. You can see the avian protection devices or local utility company has installed on many of the poles in the well field. The Eastwood Eagle Watchers and the wonderful people of the City of Dayton Water Department had requested that something be done to reduce the threat to the eaglets after we lost the eaglet “Spirit” in a nasty pole related incident in 2011. Our group identified the poles that were most frequently visited by the eaglets and those poles were quickly retrofitted with devices. The image posted here shows the plastic, inverted triangular devices that are intended to discourage perching by obstructing the wooden beam. (These devices met with limited success.) The device protruding up near the pole top is a standard rangepin that was installed to obstruct the wider pole top itself. The most important devices by far are the brown-colored, plastic devices that cover the insulators of each bare conductor on the pole as well as the first 6 feet or so of each conductor on either side of the pole. Not only do these devices add an additional element of insulation to reduce the risk of electrocution, they make the wires more visible and therefor less of a threat for a wing or muscle being damaged by contact with a single conductor while landing on, or flying from the poles. And because these devices fit loosely on the wires, the hard plastic proves to be an unnatural and unstable perch should an eaglet attempt to land on the device itself. In time the youngster will master the difficult art of landing in trees with her 6’+ wingspread and grow to prefer the protective seclusion of the limbs to the openness of the poles.

In stormy weather or in hot, muggy air, if you can keep your heavy eyelids raised, you never can predict the things you may see.

Published in: on July 20, 2015 at 3:11 am  Comments (8)  

A Very Clean Short Story

It is easy to forget that an eaglet usually spends about 80 days after hatching sitting in a spacious but roofless nest in the top of a very tall tree. Imagine spending 11 weeks drenched by rain, covered by snow, buffeted by winds or baking in the hot sun and all without a real drink of water or a much-needed bath. Is it any wonder that freshly fledged eaglets love the water so? This is the story of one such eaglet that I will call Edgar. Edgar is actually a 2015 Brookville, Indiana eaglet that our chief photographer, Roger Garber, photographed this past weekend. Using Roger’s images as a guide, I wrote this short story filled with eagle facts for you to share with your own “eaglets”.

A Bath for Edgar

It had been a very hot day and young Edgar had been playing a lot! Now, everyone knows that young boys that play a lot on very hot days can get very, very dirty. That is true for any young boy, even if that young boy is an American Bald Eagle, like Edgar!

Everyone also knows that dirty boys need to take a bath and that is just what Edgar wanted to do! So Edgar landed by the big lake and gracefully jumped up onto a great big stick by the water.

RGP830 He carefully looked around to make sure that he was all alone and that there were no hungry animals nearby. He checked the trees and the skies above


and he checked the water below.


As he looked into the water he was surprised to see a bird that looked just like his brother staring up at him. But when he touched the water with his sharp claw (called a talon) the water moved and the bird disappeared! Then he slowly searched the bushes. His eyesight is a lot better than yours and mine and everything looked safe to him. But then he noticed a man with a big camera sitting very still by the water’s edge quite some distance away.


“Hey!” Edgar called out, “I’m gonna take a bath over here.” The man with the camera quietly turned away as if he had no idea that the young eagle was talking to him. Confident that he had gained a little privacy Edgar spread out his beautiful, long wings that measured more than 6 feet from tip to tip and half-jumped/half-flew into the cool water making quite a splash.


Now, a young eagle weighs about 10 pounds and stands about 30 inches tall so that splash was really a GREAT BIG splash and Edgar was really happy about his fancy dive. The water felt so refreshing that Edgar didn’t even notice that the man with the camera had heard all the noise and was watching him with a big smile on his face.


Every one of Edgar’s more than 7,000 feathers were really dirty so he splished and splashed and splashed and splished over and over again! He closed his eyes and ducked his head under the water. “Boy that feels good!” he thought as he dunked his head under for a third time. He shook his head back and forth and water went flying everywhere.

The young eagle was enjoying his bath so much that he did not even hear the CLICK, CLICK, CLICK, CLICK of the man’s camera. The man was so enjoying taking pictures of Edgar that he was not in the least bit worried about the noise from the camera.


But when Edgar’s head bobbed up for the fourth time his sharp hearing picked up the clatter of the camera in spite of the water trapped between the feathers on the side of his head. As he looked in the direction of the noise he found the man looking right back at him!


Now Edgar was pretty upset! “Hey! I thought I told you that I wanted some privacy over here!” he complained as he flapped the water off of those big wings. But the man just heard a lot of shrill, “Kikikikikikikikiki.” and kept taking pictures.


This just made Edgar angrier! Why, he was madder than a wet…er…eagle! The soggy youngster folded up his wings, lowered his head and began marching out of the water. This man had interrupted his bath and had ignored his warnings and now he was going to hear about it!


“CLICK, CLICK, CLICK.” chattered the camera as the man continued to snap pictures. The man was so busy taking pictures that he simply didn’t notice the angry eagle’s approach. Getting closer and closer, Edgar marched on determined to give the man a piece of his mind. He may have to wait until he is 4 or 5 years old before he would have beautiful, white head and tail feathers like his mother and father but he felt that was already a big, brave eagle on the inside!
American Bald Eagles really like their solitude and do best when people stay a respectful distance away and this young eagle wanted to make the man understand that his bath time is his bath time! Finally the man lowered his camera enough to see that the young eagle was not very happy. He still could not understand Edgar’s scolding calls but he certainly did understand Edgar’s body language!


“I’m sorry if I disturbed you little eagle.” apologized the man as he tucked his camera under his arm and turned to walk away. Edgar stopped. “I showed him!” he thought as the man got into his car. “Hmmph!”

As Edgar spun around to return to the water to finish his bath he glanced up into a nearby tree to find his older brother and sister cheering his bravery.


They were proud of their little brother and Edgar was pretty proud of himself too!

Published in: on July 14, 2015 at 3:05 pm  Comments (26)  

As History Unfolds

In my last posting I had mentioned that too often frustration was a large part of the eagle watching process, especially when there is only one pair of nesting eagles in the entire county. And if that nest is in the center of a large fenced-off, non-public area the chances of having a “close encounter of the eagle kind” are even more remote. That is the situation with Jim and Cindy and lately the weather has been anything but cooperative. That is why on those days when we are experiencing rare peeks of sunshine I rush over to Eastwood Lake with a freshly charged camera battery and renewed hopes!

Such was the case last Thursday when the rains lessened and the sunlight managed to sneak through a few breaks in the overcast skies. Those skies were pretty crowded with moisture and thermals created by the warmth of those sunbeams. The evaporating dampness did not make for the best picture-taking conditions, especially at a distance, but the opportunity to see something (and at this point I was ready for anything) was just too good to ignore. It had been too long since I had seen Jim and Cindy and thermals are an eagles playground! So realizing that my ankle-high lawn was still too soaked to mow, I hopped into the car and headed to Eastwood Lake. I immediately discovered that the skies around the lake were also crowded with large birds, but not my elusive eagles. I saw Ruby and Ringo, the resident Red-Tailed Hawks, briefly soaring along with their new baby, and small groups of wandering Turkey Vultures were dotting the sky at regular intervals. They like playing on the thermals too. They always seem to travel in groups, or at least pairs. For about an hour I occupied my time watching the various vultures drift closer and lower until they passed overhead and then slowly drifted away.

The slow, methodic rhythm of their circles can be almost hypnotic. It is reminiscent of concentrating on the pendulum-like swing of a pocket watch dangling from a chain. While watching them from the inside of your car you can almost hear a soft voice chanting, “You are getting sleepy.”

But my mind and my pulse were quickened as I noticed a different rhythm in the sky! In the far-distant corner of the well field I spotted a long, slow cadence that I have come to love. It was the strong, majestic wing beat of an American Bald Eagle. Through the camera lens I could see it was Jim and he was heading in my direction. (How quickly sleepiness can flee away.) Although he was still about 3/4 of a mile away I began snapping pictures. After all, I had not seen him for days and he could stop, dive out of sight or change directions at any time.

IMG_9317eSo I snapped away. As I began to take pictures I became acutely aware of another factor that can lead to frustration at Eastwood, traffic. The best viewing spot at the lake sits lower than the adjacent Harshman Road. The guard rail and passing vehicles can be a real nuisance when you are trying to photograph a bird on the far side of the roadway and the evaporating moisture from its asphalt surface creates distorting heat waves to boot. It seemed that the heavy traffic was determined to block my view of the approaching eagle and focusing on a moving object between passing cars can be a real challenge as well! But he was still approaching and I was determined to get an image suitable for sharing on this blog. Jim kept coming and coming. It appeared to me that he might actually be heading to Eastwood Lake behind me and I was in the perfect location to photograph him as he passed directly overhead! This could be a great opportunity!

Now, remember that frustration thing?

Just as he approached the west end of Eagle Lake I could see him looking down at the water. I watched as he lowered his legs. His bright yellow feet were clearly visible, his toes were flared and his talons were ready for action! My camera’s shutter was singing! As I accepted the fact that he would not be crossing to my side of Harshman Road, surely, even with all of the traffic whizzing by I would have at least one good image of Jim in this dramatic, action-filled pose. And this is what I got.

IMG_9325etSHow about that for a good picture? When I finished banging my head against the dashboard I had to chuckle. Some days just go that way. Two hours of waiting for this. Frustration. But I had seen him again at last and for that I was grateful.

Allow me to take a minute or two to give you a better understanding of Jim and Cindy’s domain. The main body of The City of Dayton’s Mad River Well Field where their Treetop Palace is located is on a piece of land known as Rohrer’s Island. After some rather lengthy online research over the past few evenings, reading several newspaper articles, historical accounts and reviewing old atlases, I have learned a bit more about the Rohrers. Apparently the Rohrers were of German descent and arrived in the American colonies in the 1700s. Eventually some migrated from the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania area to the Ohio Territory in the latter part of the 1700s or the early 1800s where their original property consisted of over 1,000 acres in Mad River Township. There were a lot of settlers moving west in the early 1800s and the Dayton area experienced a bit of a population boom. Most of the new families traveled by flatboat down the Ohio River to Cincinnati and then overland to Dayton. Large properties were often subdivided and sold off parcel by parcel to newly arrived families or parcels were donated for churches or schools. By the mid 1800s the Rohrer farm had dwindled down to less than 300 acres, including a prosperous dairy farm. That land included Rohrer’s Island. (There is still a Rohrer Park in Riverside.) Here is a current satellite image of that island.

DSCN9389etx+If you click on the image to enlarge it you will see several markings. The red dots indicate the location of the fence that restricts access to the main body of the well field and protects Jim and Cindy’s solitude. The blue crosses show the course of The Mad River. It flows from the right side of the image to the left side, east to west. You will notice a small waterfall on the right where the river forks. The separate streams reunite near the left side of the image, just east of Harshman Road. The land mass between the two channels is Rohrer’s Island. The arrow by the yellow #1 points to Jim and Cindy’s sycamore tree and the Treetop Palace they have used since the 2011 nesting season. #2 is the sight of their 2009 nest and #3 is their 2010 nest. They still maintain these nests as a backup home should the need arise. The #4 indicates the area at Eastwood Lake from which we watch the nest. (The actual distance from #1 to #4 is 1/2 mile.) The #5 is the cornfield where our eagles sometime hunt or steal rabbits from coyotes. And finally the #6 is Huffman Dam and Huffman Lake, just east of the dam. You will also notice the large number of lakes and reservoirs within the well field, the largest of which we call Eagle Lake. Eastwood Lake, barely visible on the far left is considerably larger than Eagle Lake. Remember that frustration thing again? Ohio Route 4 on the north side of Eagle Lake is a controlled access highway and no parking is permitted, the south side of the well field is bordered by an active railroad track, Harshman Road is a 4-lane, 45 MPH thoroughfare with no parking and the Route 4 & 444 interchange on the east completes the circle of non-parking boundaries, so Eastwood is as good as it gets. I hope this image and short history helps you better understand Jim and Cindy’s environment and our situation. Usually once the eaglets have fledged, Mom and Dad will keep them back in the more secluded areas of the well field nearer that little waterfall.

By the way, as I was studying various satellite images I happened to zoom into the nest tree and saw this!

DSCN9388etxHow cool is that? Eagles from outer space!

Not all of Thursday was frustrating though. Later in the day as I headed home I found our lovebirds perched in Jim’s tree! I did not notice the eaglet but they are much harder to spot in the shadows. This image was taken from Route 4. The sign says “EMERGENCY STOPPING ONLY” and after a pretty frustrating day, this seemed like an emergency to me!

IMG_9406et2SsWe can learn a lot from history and we will learn even more as history unfolds.

Published in: on July 13, 2015 at 10:55 am  Comments (16)  

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