Falling Rain, Soggy Ground and Ancient History

Very unladylike.

Very unladylike.

Jim!

Jim!

Corner of Huffman Lake on Friday.

Corner of Huffman Lake on Friday.

The same corner of Huffman Lake on Monday.

The same corner of Huffman Lake on Monday.

Rain, rain go away. Come again another day.

That old nursery rhyme could have been written by a Daytonian in any given spring. Like many cities, Dayton, Ohio was founded along a river, The Great Miami River. Actually there are three rivers that converge in the center of our city as The Stillwater and The Mad River flow into the Great Miami in downtown Dayton. Rivers served as the highways through the wilderness and were the only efficient routes on which to transport people and goods before canals, railroads, automobiles and airlines, so settlements were often located on the banks of those rivers. But with the rivers comes water, sometimes too much water.

This month marks the 100th anniversary of The Great Dayton Flood. Just 10 years after two Dayton brothers named Orville and Wilbur successfully launched the world’s first heavier than air flying machine and put Dayton in the headlines of newspapers around the world, we made the headlines again. Horrific pictures of block after block of a burned out business district, massive piles of debris and the rotting corpses of horses atop steel-girder bridges were plastered on the front pages of newspapers everywhere. Melting snow and torrential, seasonal rain turned those rivers into rampaging freeways of destruction. Dayton had suffered springtime flooding often in the past but never like this! To prevent this disaster from being repeated again The Miami Conservancy District was formed and under the slogan, “Remember the promises you made in the attic!” funds were raised to improve the riverbanks and to construct five concrete and earthen dams upstream of the city. The dams were very simplistic in design and very successful in their mission.  The massive dams had only relatively small openings to allow the water to flow toward the city. When the rivers swelled and the rushing flow reached the dams, the water unable to flow through the openings would pool in the undeveloped parklands behind the steeply sloping hillsides of the reinforced earthen dams and form retention lakes. As the weather improved, the water in these lakes would slowly and harmlessly feed through the dams and the flooded lakes would recede to their normal levels. Today’s heavy rains have joined with last week’s melting snow to add about 4 feet to the depth of the water in Huffman Lake, the retention lake behind Huffman Dam. (Notice the large stones on the bank of Huffman Lake behind the Canada Goose flasher in the picture above. They were put there many decades ago for erosion control. In the other picture of that same corner of the lake taken 4 days later, those stones are underwater, Tomorrow the lake will likely overflow its banks and flood the adjoining park.)

What does all of this have to do with eagles? Well, with all that river water comes fish. The lakes formed by these dams have become quite popular with hungry Bald Eagles over the past five years. Remember that nesting eagles had been missing from Dayton from the late 1930s until Jim and Cindy arrived in the fall of 2008. That is a 60 year “drought”. As I write this blog post, I know of 5 mated pairs of Bald Eagles within a 45 minute drive of my home! This winter and last we have enjoyed multiple sightings of young adult and immature Bald Eagles passing through the area. That recovery rate is nothing short of phenomenal! Two of these pairs are known to be currently incubating eggs in treetop aeries. This too is critical when you consider that some estimates still say that 50% of eaglets do not survive their first year and as high as 90% of juvenile Bald Eagles do not survive to maturity.

Meanwhile Jim and Cindy continue to weather the weather and incubate their eggs. We will encounter windy spells and rainy spells in the weeks ahead but Jim and Cindy will never abandon that nest come spell or high water!

Advertisements
Published in: on March 12, 2013 at 1:16 am  Comments (8)  

8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Jim,

    This is beautiful and poetic. Thank you.

    Mike

  2. Thank you Jim so much for your comments on our Sunday morning sightings. We were so lucky to see Jim take over for Cindy on the nest, then Cindy circling over Eastwood Lake with the juvenile eagle (Pride ?) following her. We were hoping to see at least one eagle, but to see three eagles was a treasure.

  3. Thank you Mike. I was afraid that it may have come across as too much historical science and not enough “eagle” but it is another intricate page of the saga we are all reading together as the Ohio eagle population rebounds and Jim and Cindy flourish.

  4. Your image was very impressive Ron and your report was encouraging. With Cindy and the juvenile soaring together I have little doubt that it is indeed Pride. As far as we know, all three of the 2012 eaglets are still alive too, although statistics say that it is not probable. It is not uncommon for an eaglet to return to its natal territory with a mate of its own but that is at least 2 or 3 years away for Pride. I hope that you will encounter more eagles soon. They are amazing!

  5. THANKS FOR THE UPDATE AND THE HISTORY LESSON. GOOD TO HEAR FROM YOU TO DOCTORS THIS AM EVERYTHING IS AS SHOULD BE COME BACK IN FOUR MONTHS. I REALLLY DON’T HAVE ANYTHING WRONG JUST GETTING OLD AND SLOWING DOWN BUT HAVE A LOT TO BE THANKFUL FOR AS HEALTH AND MY LIFE GOES ON. TAKE CARE THANKS AGAIN. RUTH

  6. Thank you for traveling with us Ruth.

  7. Such an interesting post!! So thankful that Jim and Cindy chose Dayton to raise their family. And thank you to the Eastwood Eagle Watchers for all that you do to protect Jim and Cindy. Thanks eaglejim. Polly.

  8. Thank you again Polly. I will post again tomorrow addressing what we may expect to see as the eggs begin hatching in the next few days.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: