The Rarest of Honest Perfection

bald-eagleYesterday I was out on my patio fixing a few things, taking advantage of a freak sixty degree day in January.  I began hearing a chattering sound and didn’t know quite what it was, but I could tell from which direction it was coming.  I put my tools down, stood up and looked up into the trees on the conservation land across the street.  I saw what I thought were two very large hawks sitting next to each other on a branch way up toward the top of a tree.  But the sound I heard wasn’t that of any hawk I had ever heard.  I called my wife, she brought the binoculars with her and wouldn’t you know it, we had a male and female bald eagle perched up there!

We have seen an occasional bald eagle since we’ve lived here, always a male, always by itself.  To see a pair, a male and female together, was an awesome sight!  Kim ran inside to get the video recorder and tripod and, you guessed it, as soon as she came back outside and put the camera in place to get a good shot, the eagles launched into flight.  I was able to follow them for a short while through the binoculars.  What a spectacular thing to see!

If you’ve never seen a bald eagle in the wild, you’ve really missed something special.  When these mighty birds sit in a tree they are hard to miss because of their sheer size.  When you get a look at their talons and their beak, you know you don’t ever want to get into a tussle with one of these guys!  They are powerful and intimidating.  When they soar through the sky their wingspan casts huge shadows below.  Even a small eagle can have a wingspan greater than four feet.

bald-eagle-flyingI guess a few choice words I would use to describe these remarkable raptors would be awe-inspiring, majestic, proud, noble, and commanding.  When I see them, I feel a certain pride and I feel inferior to them.  It is one thing that they are the national symbol and bird of this country.  It is another knowing how far they have come since almost becoming extinct not very long ago.  If you’re lucky enough to see them take flight you can feel something special in your soul, something that makes you want to take flight also and be as free and as powerful as they are.

Shortly after the eagles had flown away and we were still talking about how cool it was to see them, we noticed something on the far shore of the river we live on.  Out came the binoculars again and what we saw looked like the remains of a very large fish that had been dragged up onto the icy shore and picked apart.  You could see small pieces of flesh hanging off bone, and we knew one of our many hawks couldn’t have gotten that fish to shore.  The snapping turtles are all off napping for the winter so it couldn’t have been them.  The Heron would never try for a fish that large.  We could only imagine one possible culprit, but the eagles were gone now, we assume with full stomachs to last until the next day of hunting.  And that is how it should be, that is the chain of life we have in our back yard every day.

When you witness something like that you think about it afterward.  You might think about how nice it would be to see those eagles more often than we do.  But then you can’t help but realize that seeing something so special maybe once every two or three years adds to the immense pleasure one takes away from those random visits.  I love each critter that graces our river habitat throughout the year.  We have a huge variety of animals we see every day that most people rarely see in the wild in their lifetime.  Above all of them, though, is the pure feeling of joy I take away from seeing one of the proudest, most magnificent species on this earth.

NOTE:  Since I’m writing a post about bald eagles here, there is something I’d like to point out to you that has been driving me nuts for many years.  This is so ironic that it kills me.  If you watch the Colbert Report you know that he has an eagle at the end of his opening montage.  Mr. Colbert believes he is the Second Coming of America, yet the sound effect he uses for the eagle is actually that of a hawk.  Eagles don’t have a shrill-like call, they have what is called a chatter and it sounds nothing like a hawk.  It is clearly a hawk’s shrill chwirk.  C’mon, Colbert, fess up and fix your sound effects!

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