Smiling Every Time

I was talking to someone at our recent eagle event about how to tell a distant, soaring Bald Eagle from a distant, soaring vulture. I explained that the easiest way was to observe the angles of the soaring bird’s wings. Vultures hold their wings with the wingtips angled up while the eagle’s wings present a much straighter, flatter profile. Here are two pictures to illustrate that point.



Eagles are also much more likely to be soaring alone while vultures seem to love company.

Speaking of Bald Eagles, Jim and Cindy have been toying with me. Monday I was sitting in my car at Eastwood seeing only distant eagle activity so I eventually turned my attention and my camera lens towards the Red-necked Grebes and various ducks decorating the thawing surface of the lake. After 30 minutes and dozens of pictures I ventured back to the east end of the lake and was greeted by this sight.

Blow drier.

Blow drier.

Cindy had just bathed in the waters of Eagle Lake and was allowing the breeze to blow her dry. She then spent the next 40 minutes perched in this tree just inside the well field fence and for 40 minutes I snapped image after image of her contorting herself this way and that to carefully smooth and perfectly arrange each of her 7,000 feathers. Well, maybe not each feather but she was pretty thorough. As I snapped my pictures I wondered if any of the people in the hundreds of passing cars that kept crossing my line of sight even bothered to notice our pretty girl in the tree as they sped by. Since nobody pulled in to join me, I assumed that they were too busy and too preoccupied to notice. What a pity. May I never be that busy. I feel sorry for people who miss the wonder of Creation or simply take it all for granted. Like these folks just passing her by:

Just too busy.

Just too busy.

When Cindy deemed herself properly groomed and presentable she left her perch and flew off to the far end of Eagle Lake. As she passed by I was struck by how sparkling clean she was.

Cleaned and preened!

Cleaned and preened!

Sometimes when watching an eagle soar high in a blue sky they become difficult to track. It is easy to lose sight of them in the vastness of the open sky, but every now and then they will turn or twist just enough that the sunlight will glisten off the bright, white surface of their head or tail and reflect back to earth. The beacon will flash like a lighthouse’s beam on a dark sea and reveal the eagles location for another few seconds of thrills and admiration.

Then yesterday I decided to hike along the south shore of The Mad River hoping to catch a glimpse of a passing, hungry eagle. So I parked my car in the park side of Eastwood, grabbed my camera and hit the trail along the river. After about 15 minutes the trail became increasingly more muddy so I took the next path up the bank. As I arrived at the asphalt bike trail I was surprised to find an eagle soaring directly above my parked car! They were toying with me again! I shot this picture before it disappeared behind the trees and vanished to parts unknown.

Feathered gracefulness.

Feathered gracefulness.

Sometimes eagle watching is like a giant childhood game of hide-and-seek. But just like the vivid memories of those carefree games from so many decades ago, finding a hiding eagle leaves me smiling every time.

Published in: on March 12, 2014 at 6:37 pm  Comments (20)  

20 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Love your commentaries! May I also never be too busy to see nature’s aewsomeness!

  2. Eagles fly with dignity. Vulture fly lazy.

    Rod Sidley

  3. How exciting!!! Can’t wait to do more watching and wait this year!!

  4. Great photos as always!!

  5. Thank you Joleen. Escaping to nature rejuvenates the weary and soothes the troubled mind.

  6. Good point Rod. Adult eagles always seem to be on a mission and fly with a purpose in their wings while vultures seem to meander about just hoping to stumble across a free lunch somewhere.

  7. It is exciting KeeKee. With this 2 days of winter weather comes two days of getting done all the work that has fallen by the wayside while I was eagle watching.

  8. Thank you for keeping track of our resident eagles!!

  9. Thank you Jennie. This time the pictures were all mine because they told the story that unfolded before me but they fall short of Roger’s beautiful shots or Ray’s wonderful images. (But my images are getting better.)

  10. You are quite welcome Melanie. It is our pleasure. Two weeks til eaglets!

  11. Thanks Jim, You made me “SMILE” again… :-)))

  12. You write so beautifully! I can visualize perfectly as I read your pieces. Thanks for the updates!

  13. Your pictures were very good!! I really enjoy how excited you get when you talk about Jim and Cindy. The art of bathing, or soaring, or capturing their lunch, to me it seems peaceful too. And I agree how people don’t take the time to just stop and take in nature. Whether it’s a small bird or a large eagle, I am always amazed by their beauty. Thanks for the update Jim and I believe our eagles love to mess with you, they know it makes you smile!! Polly.

  14. You are welcome Roger!

  15. Thank you Bonnie. That means a lot.

  16. People are just too busy now days. Every minute is occupied by something. Even when folks are driving they are on the phone or something. Even exercising is something we schedule rather than just being part of our daily activities, and then we exercise in an indoor gym. I usually only post eagle or eagle-related images but if it is living or growing or shining, I have a picture or two of it somewhere. But nothing in nature thrills me like an eagle. I saw one of our adults and a juvenile playing together in the sky today! They swooped, chased and soared together for 15 minutes and I took 333 pictures! I smiled and cheered!

  17. I have a ? for you. Do the Adult Eagles(Jim or Cindy) fly down the river as far as Chambersburg & Route 4? There have been 2 times I have seen a adult eagle flying in the area. Both times were around 10A.M. One other ? What ever happen to the Eagles that were nesting down by the dam in Englewood acouple of years ago? You said in one of your blogs that Jim & Cindy are the only nesting pair in Dayton. Thank You for any help.

  18. Your posts leave me “smiling every time” !!

    Thank you for such beautiful words and photos, always.

  19. Yes Joyce, Jim and Cindy fish the lakes north of Chambersburg and east of Route 4. They even hit Rainbow Lakes once in a while but I doubt that they pay. I am asked about that Englewood nest a lot. The pair that started it in 2012 were very young and moved on after the lake waters receded. Other eagles have since scoped the place out but have not moved in.

  20. Thank you Kathy. That made my day!

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