A follower of this blog posted a comment earlier today asking for a little historic information on Jim and Cindy. He suggested that during our wait for eaglets to pip, hatch and finally stick their precious, fuzzy bobbleheads above the rim of the nest, it may be a good idea to recap some of the highlights (and lowlights) of past nesting seasons. I found that to be a wonderful idea. We have about 480 followers now and many of them have only been on this journey for a short time. So if you have been following our postings over the last 4 years, these bittersweet memories may have a familiar ring to you, but to many they are brand new.

I made a quick scan through several hundred images and selected a little more than a dozen to highlight Jim and Cindy’s babies and their stories. Let me caution you that some images may be disturbing. I was there when most of them were taken and they still bother me but I think that they are a very important part of the story and illustrate how fragile and wild life in the wild can be.

As always, the stars of our story are Jim and Cindy.

Our stars.

Our stars.

Our beloved Bald Eagle pair arrived in Dayton in the fall of 2008, shortly after the remnants of Hurricane Ike blew through town. The young adults were not very successful in their first two years of nesting. In 2009 they hatched an eaglet but it lived only a few days and in 2010 they incubated an egg but it failed to hatch. That was a sad scene as Cindy abandoned incubation after about 40 days but Jim stayed on the egg for several more days and was becoming visibly weak before he too finally gave up.

The story became a much more happy one in 2011 with the relocation to their current tree and the successful hatching and fledging of two eaglets. They had been named Spirit and Pride through a contest sponsored by The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery.


RGPhoto144 Spirit

Unfortunately tragedy struck on Independence Day. Young Spirit was severely injured in a fail attempt to land on a wooden power pole. We believe Spirit caught his left wing on a wire and either impacted the pole or the ground at the base of the pole with enough force to blow out his right knee and crush the right side of his ribcage. We had seen his sister, Pride, sitting atop that pole for much of the day but had no idea that her sibling was lying in the tall grass at its base. Late in the afternoon of the next day we were summoned to the wellfield after a worker there had spotted the injured bird. We were heartbroken when we arrived within the fence and saw this.

The sun sets on injured Spirit.

The sun sets on injured Spirit.

Our local, Glen Helen Raptor Center recovered Spirit and after examination by a veterinarian it was determined that the injuries were too severe and the eaglet was euthanized at the age of 100 days.

This tragedy heightened or resolve to protect our eaglets from an unseen threat. The novice flyers saw the utility poles as an open perch unaware of the possibility of electrocution should they contact two of the bare-wire conductors.

Risky business.

Risky business.

Heart stopping moment.

Heart stopping moment.

You can see why we were concerned. The threat was real and potentially deadly. Jim and Cindy only perched in the neighboring trees but the inexperienced eaglets still had trouble landing through the branches and preferred the open poles. Conversations between the wellfield office and our local utility company led to the installation of devices to obstruct the crossbeams and to insulate the conductors at the poles. We were able to direct the utility crews to the poles most frequently used by the eaglets as well as the poles nearest the nest. Spirit would not die in vain. We believe that Pride is still with us. We have seen a large female fishing from The Great Miami River during the last two years and Jim and Cindy interact peacefully with her rather than chasing her off. They even allow her to eat fish from their river without stealing her food!

Could this be Pride?

Could this be pride?

The 2012 nest was even more successful as Jim and Cindy fledged 3 eaglets that year!

2012 Family

2012 Family

But that season was not without a major scare or two. On June 30th, just a few days after the last eaglet had fledged from the nest, a straight-line wind raced through the area and blew most of the aerie out of the tree. We feared the worst but early the next morning we found all 3 eaglets and Jim and Cindy somewhat shocked, but otherwise well .

Shocked and bewildered.

Shocked and bewildered.

In 2013 Jim and Cindy fledged 2 eaglets from a new nest that they had begun building in September of 2012. The new nest was in the same fork of their Sycamore tree. Here is a look at those eaglets.

2013 Family

2013 Family

But shortly after their maiden flights there was yet another challenge. On July 1st a wellfield worker summoned us with the report of a downed eaglet. We found the youngster in the middle of a field of tall grass, apparently unable to get itself airborne again. Young, novice flyers sometimes have difficulty getting airborne from the ground without the aid of an elevated perch and gravity. We called the raptor center and as we waited we formed a large human ring around the field so the hopping eaglet would not get into the nearby thicket. As the raptor center personnel approached the bird it managed to fly about 10 feet but only rising a few feet above the ground before crashing down again. Upon examination the bird was found to be suffering from a mild wing injury and dehydration. During its week of rest and recuperation Cindy repeatedly patrolled the area apparently looking for her missing baby. The youngster healed rapidly and was released on July 7, 2013.

Free again!

Free again!

After initially landing in a tree, it flew again and was instantly joined by its very happy mother. We were thankful for a relatively peaceful nesting season.

Then last year we were blessed with 3 more eaglets. They were a very happy family.

2014 Family

2014 Family

On one visit we were surprised to see Jim carrying something new to the nest. He had caught a young beaver! We were accustomed to fish, ducks, turtles, squirrels and even a raccoon or an occasional groundhog but this was different! Even Cindy looked a bit surprised as he arrived.

Leave it to beaver.

Leave it to beaver.

But just after fledging, tragedy struck again. Another eaglet down, another eaglet lost. This time the eaglet had suffered a severe injury to its right wing damaging both muscle and bone.

Oh no! Not again!

Oh no! Not again!

We had no idea how long it had been injured. The youngster was taken to the raptor center where it died of its injuries within hours. Its two siblings are doing well as far as we know and are very likely two of the first year juveniles we have seen in the area this winter.

Of course there are many other babies in Jim and Cindy’s domain.

Someone to fawn over.

Someone to fawn over.

Another baby.

Another baby.

And this last picture always makes me laugh because it reminds me of an old west cowboy wearing chaps and ready for a shootout.

Draw partner!

Draw partner!

Life is a precious gift and like so many precious things, life is fragile. I say it often but life in the wild is wild. It is so important that we do all we can do to protect these majestic birds and their habitat. Our eagles are urban eagles so not only do they battle the elements they must contend with man-made threats as well. Power lines, automobiles, fencing, idiots with shotguns and so many more obstacles to their survival exist in this urban environment. But in cities across this continent the American Bald Eagle has one thing that its wilderness-dwelling relatives do not have, caring people to watch over them and intervene when necessary. Many of the readers of this blog are part of a group like that. Whether in the mountains of Tennessee, the coastal regions of Virginia, sunny Florida, the red clay hillsides of Georgia, Midwestern Iowa, along the Pacific coastline, north of our border in Canada or anywhere in between, there are eagle people. They are good, ordinary people overseeing and protecting the wellbeing of a local aerie and sharing the joys and pains of their own memories. They are bittersweet memories that bring both a smile and a tear as we spend some time together, quietly reminiscing.

Thank you.

Published in: on February 24, 2015 at 7:21 am  Comments (24)  

24 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Great post Jim !!!!

  2. Beautiful commentary .

  3. Jim,

    Thanks again for taking the time and effort to put together these messages and send them out.

    I will miss being able to follow the eagles via the web cam, but your messages are a great alternative. Your care and love for the eagles is easy to see and the resulting messages are heart-warming and at times heart-wrenching.

    Please keep up your messages if possible.

    Do you do most of your eagle-watching from the east end of Eastwood lake, near Harshman Road?

    Steve Link

  4. Thank you for the info, I’m new to this site and didn’t know any of this! I can’t wait to see the eagles in person!!

  5. Thanks to all who let the rest of us enjoy the almost daily info on these beautiful eagles

  6. Absolutely amazing the work you all do in protecting these magnificent birds. The return of the eagles to the Miami Valley is one of the greatest achievements in our area history. Keep up the fantastic work you do!

  7. Thanks for the walk down memory lane. Looking forward to a great eagle season!

  8. What an excellent post! I love the history and will be printing it to keep in my big ‘ol gigantic Eagle notebook! Thanks so much!

  9. Thank you for the recap!! It’s like looking through a family album. I appreciated it! Faye

  10. Beautiful history lesson of our resident Eagles! Our beautiful babies! So looking forward to more updates in the coming months Jim! And I can’t wait for the coming year when, hopefully, we’ll have Eagle cams back up and running, to watch even closer our resident Eagles! So thanks again Jim! Keep up the good work……

  11. Thank you Gary.

  12. Thank you J.C.

  13. Thank you Steve. We will keep you posted. That location at the east end of the lake is where we go to view the nest.

  14. You are welcome Barbara. Glad you are with us on this journey.

  15. Thank you Diane. We all count it a privilege to be able to share the story.

  16. Thanks Jim. Wild animals constantly face survival challenges. They always say that survival is the number one drive of any animal. Sometimes man makes an animal’s survival more difficult and sometimes we can encourage its success. This is a wonderful time to be an eagle watching Daytonian!

  17. Thanks for reviewing those treasured memories with us Gigi.

  18. Sounds like quite a notebook Tawana! I’m looking forward to watching the next chapter of Jim and Cindy’s history unfold.

  19. Family albums tend to get dusty at times and buried under other things Faye. They are like buried treasure chests full of precious jewels in the form of cherished images and touching memories. We gasp with amazement as we open the cover and become overwhelmed with the beauty inside. Precious golden memories sparkle and shine as they reflect the emotions that make them so priceless. They are more costly than silver, more captivating than rubies and more rare than diamonds. We guard them well because they make us the people we are. Our eagle family is constantly growing and we are honored to be the keepers of the album.

  20. I’m sure you remember it all well Opal. We will get over this eagle-cam bump. Now, let’s make some new history!

  21. Thanks Jim for the pictures and the history of our eagles. A lot has happened in the short time that Jim and Cindy have made Dayton their home!!! I’m like the others who miss the eagle cam, that sure was something I viewed many times a day. But with you and the other Eaglewatchers keeping us informed that will sure help a lot. Thanks again for all the time and dedication that you put in, I know I appreciate it so much. ……..Polly.

  22. Thanks for this site and your posts. I cant wait to actually see them in the wild. Is there a map of eastwood where we can find the best place to look for them?

  23. Thanks again Polly. We are working on those cams and hope to revive them for 2016.

  24. You are welcome Janet. You can see them come and go from the nest if you park at the east end of Eastwood Lake near Harshman Road. There you will find an orange ribbon on a utility pole and a second ribbon on the guardrail. Line them up as you look southeast and you will see the nest 1/2 mile away. Also watch for them along any body of water especially around sunrise and sunset.

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