Sorrow and Joy

You would think that those two emotions could never exist together for in so many ways they appear to be polar opposites, but in a deeper sense they are in many ways totally dependent upon each other.

As this new year began I found myself contemplating the remarkable recovery in the eagle population here in the United States of America and elsewhere. Many of the newer followers of this blog may be unaware of the Bald Eagle’s recent struggle for survival so allow me to provide a brief recap. Bald Eagles are exclusively native to North America and their population had plummeted to a point where they were in danger of being lost forever. Decades of legislation and hard work slowly began to turn the tide and Bald Eagle nests are now reappearing across the continent.

The few remaining nests in my state of Ohio dotted the southern coast of Lake Erie. In my home city of Dayton the last eagle’s nest was abandoned in 1938. As a young child I would lie in the grass on summer days and search the sky, hoping to glimpse a passing eagle. Only once was my searching rewarded. Sorrow turned instantly to joy! I hopped on my bike and followed it for about a mile before I lost sight of it.

Then in 2008 they returned to Dayton! Now, more than 5 decades after I began searching the skies for majestic wings, I can find them almost every day! That is a big part of why we formed the Eastwood Eagle Watchers group and started this blog. Even as Bald Eagles become a more common sight, we cannot lose the appreciation of their presence and we dare not lose the message of their struggle.

Our local eagles, Jim and Cindy, are a bit behind their usual schedule this year probably due to the warm December weather. The lakes are still clear of ice so the flowing river waters have not seen the anticipated uptick in activity. But those rivers are far from eagleless. We have seen the annual parade of nomadic youngsters along the levees, and so have Jim and Cindy. Roger recently captured this image of our pair as they patrolled the Great Miami River in north Dayton.


On January 4th I found this wanderer, that appears to be in her 5th year, on the Great Miami just south of town.


(There is a chance that this is Pride, Jim and Cindy’s lone surviving 2011 eaglet. In late December I had seen her near the nest tree and she was not being harassed by our resident adults.)


That same day I found a first-year juvie, a second-year juvie and two older eagles soaring low over a field a bit farther north. I could not get all four in the same frame but you’ll get the idea.


One of these birds may have been the young adult I had spotted 5 miles down river a few hours earlier.


One youngster flew directly over my car’s open sunroof! I was able to aim my camera straight up and snap this image. (Some days have more joy than others.)


Speaking of joy and sorrow, the eagle community has lost yet another eagle. We want to pay our respects to HE, the young female of the Norfolk, Virginia nest. Like her mother’s death a few years ago, Ozzie’s death in southwest Florida last year, the Decorah nest’s losses and so many more, HE illustrated how fragile life in the wild can be. Manmade inventions add to the dangers that imperil wildlife and create new challenges for their survival. Life in the wild is wild.

As a young boy on a grassy hillside I had no idea what I was asking for as I searched the skies with open eyes and an open  heart. If it wasn’t for the depths of sorrow we would not appreciate the heights of joy. It is the heights of joy that increases the depths of sorrow’s pain. Together they add excitement and wonder to life and life would be so mundane without either.


(Two final necessary traffic reminders for our local followers:
1.The Harshman Road bridge over The Mad River at the entrance to Eastwood is being replaced. Traffic will be maintained throughout the construction project but some turns in and out of the lake will be restricted.
2. The Webster Street bridge over The Mad River will be closed for 500+ days starting next week as it too is being replaced. This is the bridge near Deeds Point MetroPark where the eagles fish from The Great Miami in the winter.)

Published in: on January 8, 2016 at 7:19 pm  Comments (15)  

15 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Jim, is there a way I could post your wonderful blog on the Eagle On Alliance page – lots of tears and sadness there now and you have written some beautiful comforting words. Sidney

  2. Oh Jim your words just reach so deep into my heart. Brings huge big smiles in one sentence and put me in a crying heap the next. I love you writings you have the most amazing talent…thank you for sharing that with us. Thank you for mentioning HE from the Norfolk Nest as well as the others, thank you for sharing Rogers pictures as well as yours. Our eagle world is the most amazing world and yet can be the cruelest to our hearts….

  3. so glad to see pictures and they are doing well! Thank you soon much!

  4. Sure Sidney. If you want to post a link to our blog there I would be honored. Grieving and healing is a pathway that is best traveled with others.

  5. Our eagle community is a close-knit group Darlene, we rejoice together and we grieve together. We draw strength from others when we grow weary and we find peace in knowing that we are not alone in a moment of stillness. We invest our time, talents and hearts in our local aeries but we soar together on wings of hope.

  6. We are looking forward to a good nesting season Fran.

  7. Thank you for your wonderful tribute to HE. The cam at NBG was my first and I made many friends there. I live in the area and have enjoyed watching her brother HK and was happy that she had a fledgling last year. I am glad your eagles are doing so well.

  8. You are welcome Beachgirl. Our eldest daughter lived just across the river from NBG for a short time during Mom and Dad Norfolk’s nesting there. That nest has seen more than its share of tragedy and trials.

  9. So well said all from the heart. Thanks.

  10. Thank you Sunnie. I know I probably say, “Life in the wild is wild.” too often but it proves itself to be just that time and time again.

  11. Hi Jim, I follow your blog. You have a way with words which I love. Thank you for mentioning HE, It is a great loss. but dad Norfolk will go on. I’m also happy to read about Jim and Cindy as well. Thank you.
    Marylee,,,ie:( in chat.. skuzzabuzz)

  12. Thank you Marylee. Dad Norfolk has proven himself to be very resourceful and up to the challenges that confront him. It hurts to know that once again he has suffered a broken bond that was to last a lifetime.

  13. Your blog must have served to help EOA members cope – it has received 80 likes so far! Thanks for letting me post it. Sidney

  14. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing. The pictures are so welcome. Yes, sorrow and joy. I hope it is Pride. Best,Carol

  15. Thank you Carol. More sightings every year and more adults establishing territories throughout Ohio!

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