Oh There’s No Place Like Home For The Holidays!

Christmas is a time for memories.

Memories of past holidays shared with loved ones flood our minds. Familiar aromas, traditions and decorations anchor our hearts to the glow of the past and long forgotten smiles find their ways to our lips once more. But as far too many of us know, the hardest Christmases are those following a loss of someone we held dear.

Elvis crooned, “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you.”

Now, I know that the wildlife around us is driven by instincts but we have all seen love and devotion in the eyes and behavior of animals. The excited wagging of a dog’s tail as we enter the house at the end of the workday, a horse galloping across a meadow toward the sound of a familiar voice, or even a cat curling up on your lap as you read by the fireside. We bond with our domesticated animal companions and they bond with us.

In much of the same way, eagles bond with their mates for a lifetime. Those bonds are strong and quite observable to those who take the time to watch and are blessed enough to have the opportunity to do so. Dancing together across the sky, locking talons together in freefalling bliss, perching side by side on a favorite perch, bringing its mate a fish, tapping beaks…all driven by instinct but obviously bonded together in a very special way. So it only make sense to assume that an eagle suffers a real loss when those deep bonds are severed by death.

And so it has been with Jim. He has visited all of his familiar perches over the last few weeks but unfamiliarly alone.



Jim is truly an urban eagle. As such there is always much activity to see as he sits in the cold winter air and watches the world around him. He sees joggers puffing down the bikeway like human locomotives, traffic snarled on the bridges, Canada geese fertilizing everything in sight… He spends some of his time fishing too. He even recently took time to voice his concerns to a passing Peregrine Falcon…


who was busy showing off its diving speed while flushing pigeons from a nearby highway overpass.


But mostly Jim just sat and watched the world go by.

But then there is another Christmas carol the begins, “Joy to the world!”

And for weeks now, Joy has never been far away from Jim’s world. Quietly and quite intentionally she has followed Jim like a distant shadow. But not too distant. If you could find Jim flying by, she was usually not too far behind.


Sometimes she would perch just across the river or a few trees away, but always where Jim could see her. She made here presence and availability known but not in a pushy way. She gave him space. It reminded me of my own seasons of grief when I have needed space to mourn and adjust to a new reality but I also needed to know that others were nearby if I needed them. Occasionally she would venture into his tree where they would sit for hours.


But  Jim never chased her away.

Then this week His behavior began to change. This week Jim began to follow Joy! He joined her in her favorite perch above a well field Great Blue Heron rookery. He circled above her as she fished from the unfrozen corner of Eastwood Lake. As Joy headed to the well field it was Jim who followed along. The pursuer has become the pursued. (I once heard a woman joke, “I chased my husband until he caught me.”) It is good to see Jim moving on with his life, driven by instincts backed by devotion.

Now, every morning, The Treetop Palace is undergoing nestorations once more.


The palace may have a new queen.

Holding too tightly to a longing for what once was may cause us to miss the joy of  what might be. A house of sticks or bricks is just a house until love and devotion makes it a home and there is no place like home for the holidays!

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from all of us to all of you!


Published in: on December 23, 2016 at 2:02 pm  Comments (33)  

33 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Tears of “joy” for this glorious post. Merry Christmas to you, and to those in the Treetop Palace.

  2. It sounds like a wonderful new beginning for Jim, Joy, you and all your followers (us) that enjoy your blog. Thank you for sharing this new adventure for Jim unfolding right before our eyes. I think Jim will have an adventurous New Year ahead! 🙂 And by the way …. Joy is a real beauty. Merry Christmas to you all!!

  3. May you have
    The gladness of Christmas
    which is hope;
    The spirit of Christmas
    which is peace;
    The heart of Christmas
    which is love.
    Thank you Jim !

  4. Wonderful! I truly enjoy reading your update. Thank you. Happy Holidays to you.

  5. Beautifully written, as are all of your articles. Thanks for the updates. Can’t get to the lake right now so depend on you and Roger for info. Have a Merry and a Happy.

  6. What part of Eastwood Park location of Eagles nest ?


  7. What an awesome shot of the Peregrine by Roger Garber! Also an amazing shot of Joy! What a beauty she is! Happy to see how patient she has been with Jim. Think she’s a keeper. Can’t wait to see how the new breeding season plays out for them. Makes my heart happy she is there with him. Merry Christmas Jim and Rodger and a really Happy New Year to you as well.

  8. This makes my heart happy.

  9. This brings tears to my eyes. I am so happy for Jim – and for Joy! God has a plan for all of His creatures, and this comes at a most opportune time. What is the story behind Joy? Did she lose her mate as well that she was suddenly available for Jim?

    Here’s wishing all Eastwood Eagle watchers – and eagles – a blessed Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.


  10. Merry Christmas!! Thank you for your wonderful blog. Love the updates. Happy to see Jim have a companion. See you in 2017

  11. Jim, you have such a way of “painting” the words in the story so it is very real to all of us. Sitting with you folks after I retire is on my bucket list. Life does keep happening even when tragedy surrounds us. Thanks for the update and Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanza to all!!!

  12. So happy for Jim!!!!! And for all the Eagle Watchers !!!! Joy is a perfect name for her and like the song, ” Let heaven and nature sing”!!!!! Merry Christmas to you and your family and blessings for the New Year!!!! Polly.

  13. Thank You Jim, It does make for Joy this Christmas. Your posts are always so welcomed and appreciated. May our eagles be in Dayton for all to enjoy. Merry Christmas and a happy and Blessed New Year,

  14. So happy to hear life and love move on…wonderful photos.

  15. Thanks for the beautifully written update, Jim. I’ve been wondering how the romance was progressing.

  16. Thank you Carolyn. I hope your Christmas was merry and that your new year is full of healthy and happy eagles!

  17. Thank you Roger! I am so amazed at what you do. Thank you for sharing your gift with us all.

  18. Thank you for your kind comment Leighann. May 2017 be full of joy!

  19. We will try to keep you posted Lois. Happy and Merry to you and yours.

  20. Well Victoria, the nest is actually 1/2 mile east/southeast of the lake. It is across Harshman Road in the well field. You can clearly see it from the east end of Eastwood Lake by entering at the entrance without the traffic signal and you can watch the comings and goings of Jim and Joy but binoculars help.

  21. Thank you Joleen. We will let you know how the breeding works out. Joy is a young adult and sometimes the first couple of years can be unsuccessful. Time will tell…and we will too.

  22. Thank you Candace. All of nature praises God by doing just what He has designed them to do. We people try to do things our own way but eventually we learn that God was right all along.

  23. Thank you Jennifer. I hope your Christmas was merry and that your new year will be absolutely wonderful!

  24. Thank you Polly. Your support and kind words always bring a smile to my face. Jim has found new Joy and I pray that there will be new joy awaiting you in 2017!

  25. Thanks again Diane. I am confident in God’s grace and love as I enter 2017 and I trust your new year will be full of smiles too.

  26. It is hard to mourn in the presence of Joy, Carole. Jim is starting another chapter in this thriller! Thank you for your comment.

  27. It is hard to keep a good eagle down Donna. I have seen many familiar interactions between Jim and Joy that remind me of his bonding with Cindy. We will keep you posted on its progress!

  28. Thank you Jim. You are truly the most gifted writer who I have ever had the pleasure of reading. You bring such emotion out in people who love wildlife, and want it protected at all cost. I wish there was a nest cam for Jim and Joy as they (hopefully) prepare for this new nesting season . Please keep us updated with how they get on. The photos are a bonus. Thank you again.

  29. That is the best news ever. He deserves to have joy again in his life and now he does have Joy again in his life.

  30. Thank you for the update on Jim and Joy!!! I was wondering about him the other day and hoping that Joy was still around… Now they built a nest? This is amazing!!! I am so happy now for poor Jim not knowing why his mate never returned. I was crying… Now a new beginning!!! I am so happy . Please keep us posted!!!

  31. Thank you Catherine. We had a live, online video feed of the nest for a couple of years but it is no longer online.

  32. Life goes on Sharon. I am glad that you are enjoying the adventure!

  33. Updating is what we do Delores. Sometimes there is little to tell while at other times it is hard to keep up!

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