The Joy of Soaring

One of the reasons that I never tire of watching our eagles is that I am so envious of their ability to soar. Almost all birds can fly, but few soar and very few can soar like an eagle!

I have been spending a few hours each day searching the skies and the treetops around Eastwood hoping to watch our two juveniles as they learn the art of being an American Bald Eagle. An adult Bald Eagle is usually the perfect picture of grace and beauty. Whether effortlessly piercing the water’s surface with their talons and extracting a fish, soaring to amazing altitudes without a single wing beat or just perched regally in a tree surveying their domain, I find them to be exciting, inspirational and calming all at the same time.

I have been hoping to catch a glimpse of one of our juvies hunting but I have not yet been so blessed. But I have had two recent encounters that I would like to share with all of you.

The first was last Saturday as the rain was falling and I was driving northbound on Ohio Route 4. As we passed Eastwood Lake I caught a glimpse of some movement out of the corner of my eye. “There’s Cindy!” I exclaimed to my wife, who was seated in the front passenger seat. “Where?” she questioned rather flatly. I answered “Just watch and wait. She is flying parallel to us, just on the other side of those leafy trees, at eye level and about 100 feet away from the car, And I think she has a fish in her talons.” Moments later as we passed a gap between the trees, there she was, and she was indeed carrying a very unhappy fish! “How do you do that!?” my wife chided. With a big smile on my face I thought to myself, “Very gratefully.” (I realized that to answer her question out loud would probably not have been too wise as she sometimes views my attention to the eagles as a bit excessive. But the thought was sincere.) I truly am VERY grateful for the blessing of seeing this lifelong dream of mine unfold every day. Being able to watch Jim and Cindy and their eaglets and to occasionally interact with them for their own welfare, is a privilege that I do not take lightly. I have been able to watch them often enough that I have become very familiar with their form and movement. They are unlike any other bird. I still check out any passing large bird, be it a hawk, Osprey or Turkey Vulture but the shape of an eagles wings and the cadence and motion of their wing beats are somehow unique. And that is how the second encounter came about.

Soaring on a thermal.

Soaring on a thermal.

Not a single flap of its wings.

Not a single flap of its wings.

Those wonderfully amazing wings!

Those wonderfully amazing wings!

Can you spot the eagle?

Can you spot the eagle?

There it is!

There it is!

About two hours ago I was parked near the east end of the lake watching today’s seemingly endless parade of drifting Turkey Vultures as it passed slowly overhead in the clear blue sky. My attention was diverted to the well field where Ringo, the local Red Tail Hawk, was being harassed by a few Red Wing Blackbirds as he sat atop a nearby utility pole. High in the sky above that pole I could see the faint image of a very distant, lone bird. I instantly knew that it was an eagle. Its altitude alone was a big clue, but those amazing, enormous wings and the flat profile were the clinchers! (If you have never seen an eagle fly and soar, you are really missing out on an absolutely beautiful sight.) I watched it make slow, lazy circles for about 20 minutes and did not see a single flap of those wings. But what I did see was several episodes of free-fall tumbling! It would drift higher and higher and then flip onto its back, fold its wings and tumble earthward for what must have been 100 feet before stretching out those wings and gaining altitude once more! I was not able to capture the tumbling with my camera but using all of the zoom at my disposal, I did capture several images of the youngster as it soared across the sky. The images are quite hazy due to the distance and the humidity. I have also posted two images to illustrate just how far away, and how high it was soaring.

Being a human being keeps me tethered to the earth, but I am so thankful that by watching an eagle in the heavens I can get just a small taste of the joy of soaring.

Published in: on July 29, 2013 at 9:58 pm  Comments (10)  

10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. :-))

  2. Thanks you so much for sharing!! I frequently get the same ‘how do you do.that. But mine is usually deer and red tails….while driving 60 mph….lol
    Thanks again
    Brenda j

  3. I believe you have this wonderful sense about you to communicate with these eagles!!! Whether its when you drive, or photograph, or even write about them!! To me you have a connection, a really deep bond with Jim and Cindy. And they seem to know it too. I am amazed and yet not surprised, because you mention your faith often! Yes you are so very blessed to have this awesome opportunity and I am so thankful that you share it!! I love these eagles as you do but mine is from a distance. Thank you Jim for your passion and for sharing. And I think your wife should get a huge thank you also!!! Just because! Polly.

  4. Thanks!

  5. Just amazing pictures Jim thank you, & the story from behind the scene (about your wife) wonderful. My kids hate to be out with me, I’m always looking up, and don’t get me started on driving down the highway. It is only Hawks and TV I see there, but I have been lucky in the begining of spring with the Eagles. I have a pair that come thru from migrating and they give me a show for days in my back yard.

  6. It’s a dangerous power at times Brenda.

  7. Why thank you Polly. I admire the beauty and absolute perfection of God’s creation and there in lies the connection: We have the same Creator. As always, it is our pleasure to share. As for my wife, I will pass on your gratitude. But if the truth be known, she deserves way more than a huge thanks. She deserves a medal, a new car, a private island paradise…

  8. Dear Sir: I enjoy you re words as well as you re pictures. I live on the south side of 35 right off woodmen, andI think I saw one of the eagles soaring over the lake from my house .it was to far up to be anything but a eagle and looked neat to watch. Thank u for everthing u do for them I enjoy it. Bernie


  9. Thanks again Jannice. I don’t know about the stories but my wife is indeed wonderful, and very, very patient. (We started hanging out together in 8th grade and married a year after high school, many decades ago. The fact that she is still here every day proves how patient she is.) I have seen Jim and Cindy from my backyard on two occasions. Eagles are a great addition to any home’s landscape!

  10. Thank you for your comment Bernie. I know my brother has seen Jim and Cindy pass over his house in Kettering and that means that they must pass over your area at times too. They do get around.

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