Thursday, January 10, 2019

It's snowing eagles!

When I first moved to The Twin Cities seeing a bald eagle was an event. I had not only come from a virtually bald eagle-free California, but bald eagles were also still recovering from a variety of ecological disasters, so if my wife or I saw a bald eagle it was a special occasion. We reported in. It was a holiday. It was a treat!

Twenty-seven years later I'm not sure I ever experience a full day anymore where I don't see a bald eagle. I've seen bald eagles out over the parking lot at my job. One can see them driving on the freeway. Everything suggests that seeing a bald eagle now would have all the elan of seeing a squirrel or a mailman.  But to cash in my punchline here early, that doesn't matter at all. The thrill of seeing an eagle is mysteriously unchanged. Involuntarily a "Wow!" is still elicited from my heart. It doesn't matter if it happens every fifteen minutes. It's a funny bird that way.

I was thinking on my walk up river this morning, eagles swirling in the air above me, that I would like a souvenir snow globe that had a model version of the Mississippi River in it, all in its little gorge, fronting the Minneapolis Skyline, jewel-like in the light and as fantastical as the Emerald City of Oz. But when one would shake this snow globe, instead of snow, which with our global climate catastrophe we don't have quite so much of anymore, a confetti of bald eagles would swirl up into the globe, wings outstretched, floating in the air above the river in their plenitude, then slowly settling down to roost among all the tiny model river trees.

I counted this week. I see maybe five or six bald eagles a day now, on average;  out my window, up close, and in the far distance where a momentary flash of their white tail helps to confirm their identity. I see them wheeling over my head on my walks as they pridefully refuse to ever beat their wings, even if it makes them sink lower than they want and makes me gasp with joy to see them so close. Eagles are wonderfully lazy, but they love to fly. They have worked out a dazzling balance where they soar for hours on the oceans of air, keeping an eye out for dead snacks, seeing as it's the food that's the least work to catch.

Plus it's yummy! 

Or so I hear from the eagles, who say pretty much nothing, but leave what they mean lying around, if you want it. 


  1. That was a delightful read. Spotting a bald eagle on the southeastern tip of NY would be an extremely rare occurrence, but my backyard squirrels wow me every day. They have free access to my bird feeders; therefore, these well fed critters are very big - too big.

    1. I'm glad you liked it. It's funny that I debated whether I wanted to put in the line about all "the elan of seeing a squirrel or a mailman" because I have to admit it's still pretty exciting sometimes to see a squirrel (or sometimes a mailman, depends if I'm expecting anything), but there's just a kind of operatic drama that goes with an eagle that's unique.

  2. A Buzzard is a lazy ass bird, flapping it's wings only as much as absolutely necessary. Not even worthy of the classification of raptor, never hinting live prey.
    Bald Eagles on the other hand are quite industrious and often fly expeditiously by where I live. Rarely seen merely soaring.

    1. Really? That's sort of neat, a culture of eagle populations. I swear mine soar, like, all the time!

      You do sound a little contemptuous of all that carrion eating, but I saw an eagle in a tree with a really nasty bit of old fish a while ago and he just looked so... happy. I mean, in as much as an eagle can look happy.

  3. Reading this post reminds me of all the birds I grew up not seeing because of ddt.
    Now there are formations of pelicans and rambling ibis and neighborhood Raptors and all sorts of wonderful things. As a child of the atomic age it's kind of pathetically sweet to have a glimmer of optimism.


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