Way Back

Once again we sit on the threshold of another year looking ahead with wonder and anticipation (and possibly a bit of dread) for what the new year may hold. Time is a funny thing. It creeps by so slowly and consistently that we barely notice its passing until we encounter someone or something that captures our attention and focuses our minds on the changes that time has brought. Then the evidence is hard to ignore. “Oh my! Where has the time gone?” we ask in startled musing. As a child the days leading up to Christmas, a birthday or summer vacation from school seem to drag on forever but as adults the years seem to fly by. (I wonder if that is where the expression “over the hill” originated. Once you reach a certain age time seems to speed up as you zip downhill after years of struggling to reach the summit.) Time hasn’t changed, our perspective has.

As we look back over the past, perspective is so very important. The reality of known facts, free from the temporary emotions of the moment, can refine that perspective. Once feared “monsters” that loomed so ominously on our horizons now look like little bumps in the road behind us. We discover that we wasted a lot of anguish and energy on challenges that proved not so challenging at all. Hindsight is 20/20 without the mental and emotional fog of the present.

As we pass through the fading end of 2016 lets look back, way back, and get a little better perspective on where we are today in the amazing world of Bald Eagles here in Dayton, Ohio and across the country.

My wife’s great, great, great…grandfather was born in 1737 in colonial America and eventually served as a colonel in The American Continental Army during The Revolutionary War. In his day there were more than 200,000 Bald Eagles that populated the American countryside, most of which was still pristine wilderness. Some estimates go as high as 500,000! Virtually every lake, river and large pond hosted a nesting pair of eagles and the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines were dotted with aeries as well. In the mid to late 1800s the population began to decline largely due to habitat loss, hunters, eagle bounties put up by mistaken farmers and ranchers and other human interference. With the added addition of chemical threats and electrical lines the Bald Eagle population had dwindled to less than 500 known nesting pairs in 1963. In the mid to late 20th century laws were enacted to protect the remaining Bald Eagles which were threatened to the point of nearing extinction and our national symbol was added on the Endangered Species List. Certain chemical compounds like DDT, a crop pesticide, were also banned and the resiliency of The American Bald Eagle was given the opportunity it needed to soar! A decade ago the Bald Eagle was delisted as population numbers climbed and now there are thousands of Bald Eagle aeries across the lower 48 states!

Our local history reflects the national story. Although Jim and Cindy were the first eagles to nest within Montgomery County in 70 years, their arrival in 2008 was just the beginning of the repopulation of territory that had been unclaimed for decades. Every county in the region now is home to at least one Bald Eagle nest! Skies that were once eagleless are now graced with these majestic birds once more. I have seen more eagles on our rivers and lakes in 2016 than ever before. In fact, at least during this time of year when young eagles wander, young adult eagles search for mates and young pair-bonded eagles look for territory, it is hard not to see an eagle if you spend a few hours by a lake or a river!

To reinforce this point and too further refine our perspectives, let me share one more amazing fact. Yesterday there were nine eagles soaring, playing and frolicking together over Eastwood Lake! NINE! What a thrill! What a blessing! There were seven juveniles of various ages along with Jim and Joy in the group. Later in the day Jim and Joy were seen flying high over the lake with a third adult. Every day for the last two weeks there have been three to six young eagles fishing and perching around Eastwood Lake. A decade ago there were none!

Here are a few images from the last few days of excitement.

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Of course, as I look back over 2016 I also remember the untimely loss of Cindy, the original queen of The Treetop Palace. In looking over the group of juveniles I have to wonder how many of them are Jim and Cindy’s offspring. Surely some must be. That thought makes me smile as I know that Cindy’s legacy and characteristics will live one for generations to come much as my wife’s distant grandfather lives on in our own children and grandchildren.

Time heals. Time sharpens our perspectives. The new year offers many opportunities to soar. Looking back allows us to see the many blessings of the past and encourages us to embrace hope for the future. I am thankful for my many blessings and that includes the ability to look way back to see that The American Bald Eagle is well on its way back too!

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Published in: on December 29, 2016 at 6:17 pm  Comments (24)  

24 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you so much for the update!

  2. Beautifully written, Jim Weller. . Love reading your blogs. Writing is your God given gift.
    Thank you for the poignant reflection.

  3. Again, your words lift me up. Your perspective was just what I needed as I start a new adventure at 81 by moving from my home of 44 years in VA to an Independent Living apartment in FL. I hope the new year offers me those opportunities to soar, to restore hope for the future, and to find eagles overhead like you are so fortunate to see. Thank you, Jim.

  4. I really like your blog, and look forward to each one.

  5. Wow your photos are beautiful. And yes, like you, I do believe some of those juveniles and sub-adults are Jim and Cindy’s offspring. I have been following a few nests in Florida and we see a lot of the young ones visiting these nests and we always say the kids are coming back home. What a wonderful sight! It means that they have survived out there in the wild and that means so much. Awaiting to hear what the new year will bring for Jim and his new lady Joy.Thank you for your wonderful comments. Happy New Year!

  6. Such good news! Thanks so much for caring & sharing your thoughts about these beautiful majestic creatures! Please keep up the good work! Lynda

  7. Beautiful pictures!

  8. You are welcome Teresa. We love sharing the adventure!

  9. Thank you for the encouraging words Pat. God is the Author of the story, the Creator of its characters and the Revelator of the inspiration that permeates it all.

  10. There are a lot of eagles in Florida Sidney, even more than there are in Virginia. The advantage that Florida offers is a long coastline on either side of the state and a lot less snowy weather. I applaud your courage in starting this new adventure. May your years in Florida be healthy, happy and blessed and may you find many opportunities to soar.

  11. Thank you for your kind words John. We will keep you posted as the pages turn.

  12. Thank you for your comment Marsha. The first photo was mine and those spectacular images under it were all Roger’s. I will never understand how he does what he does so well. The holidays were crowded here at my house with children and grandchildren and a lot of laughter and joy. Things are a bit quieter now. That is the way it will be for Jim and Joy as they get down to the business of starting a new family in February. Any lingering youngsters will be shooed away because all that confusion makes it hard to concentrate! I hope your new year is joyful as well.

  13. Thank you Lynda. Your appreciation is appreciated. We will keep you posted as the story unfolds.

  14. Thank you Linda. I am glad the posting made you smile!

  15. As a proud Daytonian, living in Canada, I treasure your written words and shared photos, Jim.

  16. Thank you for doing this. Eagles are back in our area in Central Ohio and Northern also. Love following the stories of the Eagles good and bad. Have had a couple of fly bys in front of my car by our local Dad, always slow down in the area, would be devastating if I hit one. Again Thanks for sharing.

  17. Thank you for the the post and photos. Life goes on and it is grand….

  18. Your posting/article was beautifully written. I am from Naples, fl , close to the southwest fl eagle cam and learned about you and your eagles when Cindy passes away recently. Even thought I had not followed Jim & Cindy I was so broken hearted that morning, even crying as I looked at the pictures of her and read the story about the two of them . Thought about Jim in the following days and once again felt terrible thinking of him looking and waiting for her. Glad to see that he has found Joy ! We lost ozzy the male of our nest her in south Florida over a year ago and know first hand how attached you can become !! I read a post of your a while ago that spoke about a children’s book , I think that would be a great idea! Happy new year to you !
    Amy

  19. I would to come and see them. Live in Dayton. Is it possible
    Drive out where they are?

  20. Found your site when I heard in the news about Cindy. I follow the southwest eaglecam down here in fl, I live in Naples, fl. I found myself crying that morning as I drank my cup of coffee reading about Cindy. I love your writing and beautiful pictures! You posted a while back something about a children’s book, I think that would be a great idea!
    Amy

  21. Thanks Carole. Grand indeed!

  22. Thank you Amy. I was aware of Ozzie’s struggles, recovery and heartbreaking loss but just as Harriet moved on Jim will too.

  23. It is possible Donna. You cannot get close to the nest but if you visit Eastwood Park or especially Eastwood Lake near Ohio Route 4 and Harshman Road for an hour or so you are likely to see them overhead. Keep looking up!

  24. Thank you Amy. Still working on getting a book out there.


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