Why We Do What We Do

We are in that annual period of impatience and angst as we eagerly await the signs of incubation that will begin the 35 day count down to the next period of impatience and angst. Jim and Cindy have been visiting The Great Miami Refrigerator…er…I mean River, standing together on the ice of Eastwood Lake and perching side by side in the treetops.

That in itself is a negative sign of sorts. If both adults are off of the nest, there are no eggs in the nest. But there are a number of positive signs for which we watch. After Cindy lays the first egg she will mostly stay in the nest for a few days until the second and possibly a third egg arrives. Jim will be seen bringing food to his preoccupied mate. But if she does leave the nest Jim will immediately take over incubation duties. We will see him arrive just before Cindy flies off and then he will waddle awkwardly into position before settling down over the precious and fragile package. The waddling is a result of the adult walking on its knuckles as it curls its toes and balls up its feet to remove any possible chance that one of its talons might pierce the egg. As they incubate their tail will stick up at a 45 degree angle as the parent gently nestle the egg in the warmth of the feathers of its lower chest area. We may see the adult stand momentarily and appear to bob its head as it carefully rotates the egg on the nursery floor before settling down again. And when it is not feeding or hunting, the non-incubating adult will perch in a tree near the nest to conserve energy and to fend off any potential threat that may arise. Of course, a lot of this behavior may be difficult to view from 1/2 mile away and our observations may be hindered even more if Jim and Cindy’s recent “nestorations” have added sufficient height to the walls of the nest to conceal the activity within its bowl. These are some of the signs we watchers watch for.

But why do we do what we do? This question puzzles many that do not hear the silent call of these majestic creatures. But those of us who are so blessed are drawn to the beauty of the Bald Eagle’s story like mythological seafarers were drawn to the siren’s call. We see this moment in life as our opportunity to witness something wonderfully captivating. This is not some virtual adventure created on a computer or within a Hollywood studio. This narrative was not created by man at all. It is real. It is as wonderful as it is raw. And it is utterly riveting and full of surprises. I have witnessed the faces of toddlers and the aged as they have been carried away by the overwhelming grandeur of the unexpected sight of an eagle overhead. That moment will be permanently etched in their memories and will come to mind repeatedly as time passes.

Why do we do what we do? I don’t know how many of the readers of our blog read the comments that are left by readers on the bottom of this page, but they are often quite moving. One recent comment touched me deeply and has played over and over again in my mind. The comment came from a dear lady named Mae. I found her words to be not only confirmation of my historical research over the years but both a challenge and an encouragement as well. Mae wrote, “I’m almost 87 years old, raised in the village of Harshmanville, adjacent to the well field. I remember my grandfather, David Clingman, taking me several times, numerous years up to watch the eagles. Later in my childhood they stopped coming. It is most pleasing that they are back…” Her comment brought tears to my eyes as I pictured a doting grandfather holding a little girl’s hand as they watched an eagle fly. He had no idea how precious that memory would be decades later nor did he know how his simple act of lovingly spending time and nature with his granddaughter would bless my heart and now yours as well.

But then there is that haunting statement, “Later in my childhood they stopped coming.”

As I have stated in numerous posts, in 1938 that last nesting eagles left Dayton. And for seventy long years “they stopped coming”. As a child I longed for their return. After more than 5 decades I rejoiced when they did. And I rejoice again every time that a classroom of children oohs, aahs and giggles during my eagle presentation or a nursing home resident tells me that he and his friends follow our blog. And my heart rejoices whenever I see a grandparent lovingly holding a grandchild as an eagle flies overhead. May no child ever again have to say, “They just stopped coming.”

That is why we do what we do.

Thank you Mae.


Published in: on February 12, 2015 at 10:30 pm  Comments (10)  

10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’ve been following your blog for some time and enjoy it very much. I’ve been out to Eastwood Lake looking for a sight of an eagle. I did see a juvenile once – it flew right over my car and landed on the bank – but that was the day I didn’t have my camera! Last Saturday I joined the group along the Great Miami River and was thrilled to be there at the time the two juvenile eagles flew in! It made my day! I was wondering what is the best time to look for the eagles?

  2. Yup.

  3. Jim, your post touched my heart. I can identify with Mae – not that I saw eagles with my grandfather (we did not have eagles in our area) – but that I walked hand in hand with him over acres of pasture and woodland on his farm as a child – learning about nature, understanding our connection with it, and absorbing those lessons he gave me — decades and decades ago. It is our responsibility to teach those who come after us, so they will learn to appreciate and value the gifts of our Creator

  4. I am glad they cooperated Vickie! I was along the river too. The best time is always early morning just around sunrise as hungry eagles go looking for breakfast. Patience is a virtue when it comes to eagle watching around these parts.

  5. Thanks for the agreement Jim.

  6. Thank you Carolyn for all you do on behalf of these amazing creatures. My dad’s parents were gone before he met my mother and her parents were 6 hours away in Chicago so I only saw them once a year until they passed away when I was in elementary school. But now, as a grandfather of two wonderful young boys, we hike and play outdoors a lot. The 9 year old can spot an eagle faster than I can, and that’s saying something! His 8 year old brother is always trying to trick me into looking at an animal that isn’t there. The other day we were driving past a lake and stopped to count the Mute Swans on the water. There were seven of them and the eldest said, “Hey! Seven swans aswimming!”

  7. Beautiful narrative once again Jim. I too would like to thank Mae–her remembrances brought back some of my own with my grandpa on the farm in Missouri. He died in 1976 and I miss him dearly.

  8. I have to share with you something that happened to me on Friday morning. I live in Sidney and was driving over a bridge and the Great Miami River flows under it. It’s about 7am and I see a large bird fly over my truck, only about 10 feet above me and it was an adult eagle !!!!!!! All I could say was, Oh my gosh…oh my gosh!!!!! I was thrilled and I think I even held my breath !!!!!! The peace I felt for just a few seconds when I saw how beautiful it was and that it chose that moment to fly over was breathtaking. I hope everyone who reads your posts will get to experience the thrill just once!!!……Thanks Jim. Polly.

  9. Thank you Becky. Sweet are the memories of loved ones gone, precious are the moments we cherish forever.

  10. That is a close encounter of the best kind Polly!

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: