Happy Eagle Watching!

Autumn’s annual aria of praise has ended and almost all of her brightly uniformed, treetop musicians have taken their final bows and fallen to the ground. Those that stubbornly refused to leave the stage were encouraged to do so yesterday by a wintry delivery of frosty linen: a sheet of ice and a blanket of snow. The barren stage will soon be set for winter’s slumber, a season of rest and restoration before the arrival of the demands of a new spring and new life. Winter’s solemn sleep is a sharp contrast to the stimulation of autumn’s frolicking and colorful extravaganza, for it is silent, deep, peaceful, and necessary.

As the leaves departed they revealed new views of our local eagles and new opportunities for those who would like to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures. If you would like to try your luck at seeing Jim and Cindy in person, and are willing to venture out into the cold, the next few months are for you. Not only are our two lovebirds staying close together, other juveniles and adult bald eagles are beginning to crisscross the area as well. (I will post more about them shortly.) This time of year you can actually sit in the comfort of your heated car and wait for them to appear, if you know where to wait of course.

To improve your chances for successful eagle watching here are a few helpful hints:

  • Location, location, location! Huffman Lake, Eastwood Lake and Deeds Point (where the Mad River flows into the Great Miami River, between the Webster Street and Patterson-Riverside bridges downtown) and anywhere along our local rivers are good locations.
  • Timing is everything! Early morning brings the best chances for success. Just around sunrise, hungry eagles awake from their sleep and leave their roosts to find a bite to eat. For humans, sipping a hot cup of coffee as the sun rises and watching the mist rise from the cool water is a very enjoyable way to start the day.
  • Be aware of your surroundings as they hold clues to the eagles’ arrival. You may see deer, coyotes and some not-yet-hibernating-but -getting-awfully-sleepy groundhogs foraging for a tasty snack but be watchful for the following two “eagle alarms”:
Great Blue Heron Alarm

Great Blue Heron Alarm

This alarm is not only accurate, but quite comical. Great Blue Heron are almost always peering into the water with very slow and methodic motion, but when an eagle is approaching they suddenly look skyward. Their heads almost seem to disappear, (which is exactly what they are trying to avoid). Even if you don’t see the eagle yet, you will in a matter of seconds.

Gull Alarm

Gull Alarm

This alarm is actually quite enchanting. As the eagle approaches the gulls floating on the surface of the water will all take to the sky. If they are close to you the organized chaos seems like a wild dance. If they are more distant and it is a sunny day, they appear to be silvery glitter blowing higher and higher into the air. Again, even if you don’t see an eagle yet, they do. And very shortly you will see one too.

Now that the leaves are gone, the rather distant aerie is visible again. You can watch the eagles come and go with the naked eye but a good pair of binoculars, a scope or a good camera will be a real plus. To assist you in finding Jim and Cindy’s treetop abode, I have marked its location. Near the east end of Eastwood Lake (along Harshman Road) you will find a wooden DP&L pole with the number 306098 on it and a length of flagging ribbon attached to the riser on the south side of the pole. Stand by that ribbon and look just above the ribbon on the guard rail along Harshman and you will see the aerie in the distant sycamore tree. Cindy will lay the first egg of 2014 in mid to late February but they will be adding to the nest off and on as that time approaches.

How to find the aerie.

How to find the aerie.

The aerie as seen from Eastwood Lake.

The aerie as seen from Eastwood Lake.

And always remember to scan the trees along the shoreline for a resting eagle! The adults are pretty easy to spot with that bright, white head and tail. And I often remind people to “keep looking up” too! If you see a high, soaring bird on flat outstretched wings, it is probably an eagle. Watch for a flash of white as its head or tail catches the sunlight and reflects it earthward to brighten your day.

Our Lady of the Lake, Cindy

Our Lady of the Lake, Cindy

Happy eagle watching!

Published in: on November 14, 2013 at 4:21 am  Comments (8)  

8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Eagle Jim, Your writing is magical. Your words place me right there…. in my mind, at least, and I can picture the majesty and beauty of what must be one of the loveliest places imaginable.

  2. Jim, you have a way with words that makes every post you write just pop with excitement! I love reading each and every one of them. Thank you!!

  3. Thank you Carolyn. As you well know, there are few thrills that compare with the sight of a wild eagle flying free. For too many decades I longed for them to be a part of my world so now that they are a mere 5 minutes from home, I will not let this blessing slip through my fingers. Thank you for all you folks do to assure that people everywhere may experience that thrill!

  4. Thank you Joyce. I wish that my words could properly capture the essence of these amazing creatures but words cannot adequately reflect the beauty and grandeur of their strength and gracefulness. The past few days have been very interesting and fruitful days for eagle watchers. I will share more soon.

  5. Thank you for the up date on our eagles, Jim and Cindy!! Your stories are always so interesting to read and I really look forward to each one of them. Can’t wait to hear more. Thanks again!! Polly.

  6. Thanks for all the great pictures and we really enjoy all the info.

  7. I am glad that you are that you still find enjoyment in our posts Polly. The eagles are pretty active right now so there is a lot to tell.

  8. Thank you for your kind words Marilyn.

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