Good Parenting Isn’t Easy

Having raised two wonderful daughters of our own, my wife and I know from experience that good parenting isn’t easy. It can be emotionally draining, mentally challenging and absolutely exhausting at times, but it is one of the greatest blessings of life! When you find yourselves alone with your newborn child, you are suddenly hit with the cold, hard reality that the very survival of the tiny, precious baby before you rests squarely on your shoulders. It is sobering. It is overwhelming. It is a wonderful privilege! The weight of that responsibility (along with too many sleepless nights) often drives you to both your wit’s ends and your knees.

Jim and Cindy are very good parents.

This week has again shown just how responsible and up-to-the-task they are. Both eagles have been seen hunting in and on the waters of Eastwood Lake in the past few days. Sometimes one of them will catch a fish and deliver it to their mate in the aerie before quickly returning to the lake for another take out order. I had mentioned in an earlier post that we will not be able to count eaglet heads for a while yet since the chick-sized, fuzzy, white eaglet(s) have some growing to do before they can venture from the nest’s soft brood pocket and scale its sides for their first peek at the world below. But that doesn’t mean that we are totally in the dark as to estimating the size of this year’s family. There are two clues that we are watching for. The first clue is just how much fishing activity we witness. Bald Eagles typically have two eaglets per nesting season. Sometimes it is just one eaglet that hatches and occasionally there may be three or even four. The more hungry mouths that are demanding to be fed, the more hunting  Mom and Dad will have to do. Jim and Cindy have been hunting… a lot!

Roger spotted one of our busy parents fishing along the south shore of Eastwood Lake this week. This is the shore closest to the public roadway. (If you have run across me at the lake then I have probably reminded you to “keep looking up.” That is my mantra. Many times I have seen people intently watching the nest and almost missing the blessing of seeing an eagle flying directly overhead, as happened just yesterday.) Roger chastised me after he spotted this eagle by looking DOWN! It was so close to the shore, flying into a strong headwind, that he was able to catch this image from the roadway atop the bank while looking down at the bird.

Keep looking down?

Keep looking down?

Later Roger was sitting along the southwest corner of the lake watching a number of coots and hoping that a hungry eagle would happen by. (Roger was anticipating an eagle, not the coots. I imagine that they were hoping the eagles would be elsewhere.) As often happens, he was in the right place at the right time and captured this image of Jim as he was about to land on a limb above the coots.

Jim coming in for a landing.

Jim coming in for a landing.

As Jim approached, the coots flushed from the water and scurried into the underbrush along the bank. Jim sat in the tree and appeared to be counting the little black heads peeking up from the dried leaves below him.

Counting coots.

Counting coots.

But hungry babies need food so he decided to snag a catfish instead and take it back to Cindy and the young’uns before returning for another fish.

Catfish for dinner.

Catfish for dinner.

Oh yes, that second clue as to how many eaglets are on the Treetop Palace floor. The second thing that we watch for is to catch both Jim and Cindy simultaneously feeding eaglets in separate parts of the nest. That looks exactly like this…

Feeding time.

Feeding time.

I snapped that image just before sunset yesterday. This image confirms that there are at least two eaglets up there! By feeding the eaglets in this manner Jim and Cindy can make sure that the older, larger, more aggressive eaglet doesn’t consume all of the food.

Here is one final picture of Cindy arriving back at the nest after a very short flight Saturday morning. She left the nest to fly to a neighboring tree and then returned to the nest less than a minute later.

Home again.

Home again.

Although the rewards are unbelievable, the challenges of good parenting can be daunting.  It is tough. It is so necessary for the future. It is a loving sacrifice. It is an art learned from the heart… Good parenting is so many things, but good parenting isn’t easy.

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Published in: on April 7, 2014 at 1:38 am  Comments (11)  

11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. There’s only one thing to say! Awesome blog and great news about the babes! And……..the pics are AWESOME guys!!!!

  2. Very beautiful for so many reasons. Thank you.

  3. Jim – any chance for putting a cam on the nest for next season? Our Amaerican Eagle Foundation NE Florida cam has been spectacular this year.

  4. Thank you Opal.

  5. I am glad that it touched your heart Clondres.

  6. There are two pole-mounted cameras aimed up at the nest Carolyn. The online stream can be found at the Raptor Cam page of the boonshoftmuseum.org website. We have joined with the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery (our local children’s museum) to provide information, pictures, updates and live video of Jim and Cindy’s nesting season since 2010. I love watching the AEF cam in Florida as well as others throughout the country and I wish that we could see down into our nest like so many of these sites do. But our resources are limited and there is not a lot of tree above our nest to support a camera without interfering with the eagles. I imagine that with newer technology, smaller. light-weight remote or fixed cameras are available but are also quite expensive.

  7. Having only known the parenting of Jim and Cindy, are all eagles this devoted? And you and Roger know them so well and the pictures are very good!!!! Thanks so much. Polly.

  8. Great news!! Looking forward to seeing the two heads pop up.

  9. Well Polly, most eagles are very devoted parents Jim and Cindy are just classier.

  10. Me too KeeKee, maybe 3!

  11. So awesome. Thank you for capturing these photos. Your blog is such a service to birders in Dayton (and beyond) 🙂


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