But Not Always

It has been a while since I have posted. My life has been busy. Too busy. Plus we are still in that lull between fledging eaglets and courting adults so there has not been much to post about.

To update you on Jim and Cindy’s status, let’s just say that all is well. Mom, Dad and the 2015 baby are enjoying the solitude of the deep recesses of the well field. The good folks there are keeping an eye out for any problems that might pop up and we appreciate their attentiveness to our resident eagles.

But this is also the time when eagles roam across the Buckeye State (I love saying that!) and we have had a few interesting encounters with the wanders.

A first-year juvenile was found grounded near Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark in north Dayton. The youngster was recovered by a caring gentleman named Mike who took the bird to The Glen Helen Raptor Center. Upon its arrival the director emailed me to see if it was Jim and Cindy’s eaglet which I assured her it was not. She told me that the eagle had a crossed beak and was undernourished.  Thank you Mike for caring enough to take the time to get involved and to make a difference in the wild life of this bit of wildlife.

Englewood MetroPark saw a short, albeit interesting visit by a number of juveniles of various ages and a few young adult birds. The lake there is rather small and tends to be very shallow when it holds any water at all. (I have explained in a previous post about the 5 dams that protect Dayton from devastating floods by retaining floodwaters in lakes and releasing it back into the rivers at a controlled rate.) For several weeks these wanderers fished from the lake and thrilled the small groups of watchers and shutterbugs that dotted the shoreline.

On one visit I watched a large, young-adult bird sitting in a tree for almost an hour. After some very intense preening it began to search the shallow waters of the lake in for a tasty fish. Before long she left the branch and made a swift, low approach towards her target. Eagles are very graceful and focused hunters and appear almost effortless in their snatching of a fish from just beneath the water surface and this approach was done with textbook precision. Her long glide was soon accompanied by extended legs and flared talons. I focused my camera on the eagle hoping to capture an image or two of the successful catch. (What I saw through my viewfinder surprised me and made me moan before I laughed out loud.) The eagle had obviously done this all before and was a real expert at the whole process. Just as she had anticipated her razor-sharp talons pierced the water. Just as she had anticipated those talons locked into her large, orange-colored prey. Just as she had anticipated her talons lifted up behind her as she flew onward.

Oops! Face plant.


Just as she anticipated the heavy fish stuck in the mire enough to cause her to lose her forward momentum and forcing the majestic eagle to do a face plant into the water creating a very Osprey-like splash.

The Osprey-like splash.

The Osprey-like splash.

(OK, maybe the last part was not at all what she anticipated.) As I snapped pictures the eagle disappeared into the muddy spray that the few inches of water supplied. As she emerged from the splash she reappraised her situation as she looked around as if to see if anyone had been watching. After a brief period of recomposing herself she decided that she would simply fly her prey back to her perch but the weight of the fish, the pull of the mud and the weight of her water soaked feathers thwarted that effort as well.

Failed takeoff.

Failed takeoff.

Again she appeared a bit surprised and bewildered. After all, that had always worked before. Again she tried to get her prey airborne with no success.

One more try.

One more try.

Time for Plan B: swim. (Eagles with large catches will often swim their way to shore using their wings in large, overhand strokes.) But this eagle soon learned that successful swimming using large, overhand strokes requires a bit more than a few inches of water.

Attempting to swim.

Attempting to swim.

After some awkward splashing she abandoned Plan B as well. Time for Plan C. She sat in the water for about 5 more minutes trying desperately to remember just what Plan C was as the fish splashed in the water beside her, eventually deciding that there really was no Plan C.

Bewildered and out of ideas.

Bewildered and out of ideas.

Releasing her prey she reluctantly flew back to her tree, slightly embarrassed, a bit wiser, hungry and emptied-taloned.

"Oh forget it!"

“Oh forget it!”

Eagles are very graceful and talented hunters, but not always.

Published in: on October 14, 2015 at 12:26 pm  Comments (8)  

8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It was good to hear from you !!!!!! And thanks for the story of the young eagle trying to catch the fish and then trying to leave the lake with the prize catch!!!! I’m so glad Jim and Cindy and their youngster are doing well. Please keep all of us posted with more Eagle news and thanks for all you do. Polly.

  2. Loved it Jim! Too funny, thanks!

  3. Oh Jim! I could picture it all in my mind! As you well know, we all love your descriptions of all your adventures! This one is a prize……I’m sure it will live on in your mind for a long, long time! I can’t wait to read about Jim and Cindy and their new adventures this long winter! Thanks to you and your trusty blogs! So get rested up! I’m sure it’s going to be very busy! Waiting patiently for your next blog…….oh! Any news about an Eagle Cam this year? Just asking……

  4. Awesome pictures!!! Your commentary was hallarious!
    Thanks for keeping us informed!

  5. My pleasure Polly. I will share what I can as events unfold.

  6. Thank you April. I can identify with the awkwardness but I cannot identify with successfully catching the fish in the first place.

  7. Thanks Opal. It will be interesting to see how the winter goes with all of the construction near the well field. There is a lot of fluctuation in staffing and other issues in our Eagle-cam partners. We will have to see how things unfold.

  8. Thank you Tracy. The whole encounter had me laughing. I felt bad for her, and a bit embarrassed but she handled it rather graciously.

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