Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Eagle sighting

Thirty years ago, this was a sight that few could actually see. The bald eagle, the symbol of the United States of America, was endangered and was getting close to becoming extinct. Poisons that people used to kill pests were ingested by the eagles in the fish and rodents and insects they ate. It caused their egg shells to become so fragile that the weight of the mother on the nest of eggs would cause them to break and the baby eaglets perish.

Environmental action banned the poisons from being used, and a rebuilding program to repopulate the eagle population began. Today, those actions are so successful that the bald eagle is no longer endangered, and in some places, is becoming so common that it is not even a novelty.

We live very close to the confluence to two of the United States great rivers, the Mississippi and the Missouri. At this latitude, the rivers seldom freeze over completely during the winter, and the number of locks and dams keep open water available for the eagles to fish from all year round. So, the winter migration of Bald Eagles brings them to our area.

Many people flock to viewing areas near the rivers to see the eagles in winter. Last year, I took a ride up the Great River Road in Illinois, and saw about 80 eagles that day. I took this picture during that trip.

Eagles like cold, windy, snowy, bitingly cold days to do their soaring. They roost in trees on calm days. You can imagine what kind of day it was when I saw 80 eagles soaring as I drove!

The other day, I was in our neighborhood doing some outside work. I looked up and guess what I saw? Not a pigeon, starling or crow. Not a red-tailed hawk or a kestrel. I saw a bald eagle soaring on the wind currents, right over my head, right in the middle of suburbia! It was exciting for me, because I can't get enough of watching these magnificant birds.

I guess they might become our common winter neighbors, even inland. From the height of his flight, he could probably still see the rivers, but it was exciting to see him right over my own suburban landscape!

Yes, it was a cold, windy, snowy, bitingly cold day, just like last year's excellent eagle watching day.


Ty'sMommy said...

That's fantastic. When taking my sister and brother in law to the airport a week ago, she spotted one of the eagles and was just tickled pink. They don't get that opportunity often in Baltimore!

sewwhat? said...

I remember seeing my first bald eagle in British Columbia, Canada. The next sighting was on my own street in mid-Missouri! How odd was that!