As a dedicated amateur birder (life list: 27 birds) I know that when one steps out the door into the wide world one should keep a vigilant eye out for birds. They could happen anywhere! You don't want to miss it! A new bird could be just around the corner, or an old one. But you've got to be alert.
Nevertheless, making my icy way along the river, I wasn't heeding this essential tenant. My eyes were cast down and I was picking my way on the poorly plowed river path with no eyes for anything. I was writing angry letters in my mind to the Mayor about the public works department when I heard a...
I don't know what to call it.
It was like a chirp, or a squawk, or a song, but at the level of a screech. It was like as if a songbird had been given massive doses of steroids. And it was coming from very nearby.
I stopped and looked into the trees. It sure didn't take much. There, quite nearby, looking right back at me, was the culprit, a fluffy, looming bald eagle.
Naturally all the birders among you will want to know if I could add this exciting bird sighting to my life list. No, I have already seen thousands of bald eagles, so that's kind of off the table, but I'm not so sure I ever heard a bald eagle so unmistakably before. It did not sound like I would have guessed. Loud, yes, but not exactly predatory. It sounded almost personal. We regarded each other for awhile, me and this bald eagle. In my experience eagles tend to be rather imperious, so it was also a rarity to have an eagle take any interest in me whatsoever. Nevertheless this one had.