Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I woke up this morning with an unquenchable urge to get back down to the river and check the eagle nest.  And, so I did.  What I found is exactly as I predicted yesterday.  Junior eaglet 1 had left the nest and flown away.  He was gone.  However, eaglet 2 was still on site.  I sat in the boat and watched.   She was perched high up on a limb when I arrived.  I use the word she as I already have labeled eaglet 1 as a he.  Both parents were present and they were taking turns flying over the eaglet trying to tempt her to take flight.
The adults were using chirps to communicate;  not the familiar shriek.  One parent flew by the youngster and landed in a tree a couple hundred yards downstream.  This adult was keeping tabs on me.  He positioned himself where he could see his mate and youngster on the nest tree and me all at the same time.  The youngster was in the nest at this point.  I didn't get to see her drop down off the branch she was on when I arrived.  So;  she is testing her wings.
The adults stood vigilant over the eaglet.  They would not depart the premise as they usually did when I would make a visit.  They moved from tree to tree constantly watching.
The watcher circled around my boat and settled into another large tree.
What a special treat!
I kept junior 2 in my sight at all time.  He was becoming agitated, moving about in the nest from side to side.
Note the white markings on Juniors wings.
Then a sudden flurry of wings in the nest.  Big, big wings.  In a flash he was on the tallest limb.  I almost missed maneuver. 
Up he went!
She's a big girl!
She teetered there holding her wings out to the side to maintain balance.
Above:  Just a bit of flapping about to finally settle into the correct position on the limb
There now.  That's better.
And so she stands surveying her situation.  Her wings are strong as are her legs.  The temptation to launch out into the sky is overpowering yet, she hesitates.  It is a big move to leave the deep, wide, familiar nest  and venture out into the unknown.  Two parents are prodding, pushing and tempting her to take that one jump out into the free air where her wings will support her weight in the nothingness of the sky.  Confidence and courage must be nurtured.  The young eagle will escape earth's hold soon enough.  She hears the wind calling her.  It will be soon now.  Very soon.  She will soar high on powerful wings and continue the legacy of all her kind that came before her.  I feel compassion for these great birds and I am grateful for the opportunity to observe, in awe, their supreme perfection, power and majesty.
 I've lingered here long enough.  It is time for me to bid them all farewell.  When the young one fly's on;  the adults will not return to the nest for the rest of the year.  I have watched four sets of youngsters come out of that nest, all parented by these two adults.  It's been a privilege for me to observe the proceedings all these years.  As always, when my boat passes the big tree with the enormous nest half way to the top;  I will feel a hollow sensation and my mind will remember previous inhabitants of that great birthing place,  high up there in the crotch of that tall old tree.  I turned to look back one last time and whispered  "good luck to all of you. May Mother Nature treat you all kindly."
I pushed the throttle forward to the limit.  I felt a sadness at leaving the eagles but, at the same time I felt joy.  I felt joy that two more magnificent Bald Eagles have just started their lives and would be sharing the sky's with relatives.  Wow!  They move one's soul.  Ya just got to be in their presence to understand.
An old friend appeared at the river bank.  The Osprey.  The Osprey isn't an eagle but they are pretty impressive.
He's getting ready to launch.  For once I'm ready for him.  There isn't much sun so I can't select the shutter speed I want.  I usually shoot at 1/1000th of a second but 1/500th will have to suffice.
He turned and flew in front of the boat.   Seems everyone's saying goodbye today.
It's been a great day.  I am happy I decided to return one last time to check the eagle nest.   Hope you enjoyed the photo's.  It's not everybody who can watch baby Bald Eagles grow up.  See you next time.