Popular Posts

Saturday, June 4, 2011



I’ve been watching these three since they hatched and it was from a friend that I found out about them—for these eagles are on UStream in Decorah, Iowa and it’s online. The web cam was put there by Bob Anderson for his job is observing bald eagles; he not only observes but operates the web cam at times and records data. This is his project and he graciously let us in to watch.
Imagine watching them closely as they are 80 feet up in the air on their nest: It’s an experience that over 100 million have witnessed. These three “juvies” have the best parents ever: They are diligent, caring and would give their lives for their babies if they had to. On chat, I have learned just about every term that applies to bald eagles from “mantling” to a “nicitating” eye lid.
No doubt some people don’t watch this and they have missed the experience of a lifetime for it is as like watching young babies with their parents: There is the desire on the babies’ part to be snuggled, fed and cared for. Week by week they have become observant of their surroundings and are curious. And week by week, you can see the change in their faces—for they are on the nest with no where to go and they are becoming more curious every day. Their wings have grown from almost nothing to a wing span of five feet. They flap their wings, hop and sleep a lot. Sleep comes after they have been fed fish or some animals by their parents and this produces a “food coma.”
First mom and dad fed each eaglet by mouth with tiny pieces of fish; this went on for weeks and weeks. At this point, dad drops off a fish and there is a scramble among the three to retrieve and eat the fish. And usually one gets it and eats it whole! Meanwhile, the other two look up in desperation for dad to drop off more fish and he always does. If one “juvie” doesn’t get any fish, dad makes sure to feed it himself, sometimes taking bites for himself.
During all kinds of weather from snow at the beginning of their birth to pouring rain this past week, mom and dad have protected these three. Usually it’s mom who stays with them during inclement weather and prior, she had stretched out her wings for coverage. But now the juvies are too big to fit underneath mom and so one or two will stick its head underneath her feathers. First of the week, it was pouring the rain and there stood mom getting drenched [but her feathers are waterproof as are all full grown bald eagles as well as the juvies now] but determined to keep her babies safe.
The juvies are hopping high and exercising their huge wings at this point—sometimes hitting another one in the face while doing so. The nest is over six feet wide and it’s getting crowded now and more so when mom and dad join them. Rest assured that the nest is strong as it weighs about one thousand pounds and is 80 feet up in a cottonwood tree! And day and night, mom and dad are always close by in another tree: They do not leave these babies alone. But they are letting them sleep alone more now so that they will become independent—for that is how nature is.
As a watcher [along with millions] it is so hilarious to see a juvie see itself in the metal casing of the web cam! One will stare and stare and you can come to believe that it is staring at you: The camera is that close. And what faces they have—so inquisitive and so cute.
By the fourth of July or maybe sooner, they will start to fledge and that means flying. But first they will do branching which means that they will jump from branch to branch first before they get their wings ready for a real flight. And no, they will not resemble their parents for they won’t get their white heads, yellow beaks or yellow eyes till they are four or five years old.
For the millions of us watching this unbelievable experience, it is a once in a lifetime chance to witness the birth and growth of these three bald eagles as well as their caring and beautiful parents.
When they finally take flight and leave the nest, I along with millions, will be thrilled and saddened at the same time for I have bonded with them even if it is in a vicarious way. When they soar for the last time, my heart will be with them forever. And I will forever be grateful for this awesome experience to have been there from the start of this wonderful viewing of birth, life and the entire bald eagle living process.
Rob McIntyre, the president of Raptor Resoure Project, passed away  while attempting to help a neighbor in Minnesota after the horrible tornado. He suffered a fatal heart attack. And his passing created a huge void with those he was associated with in the project. Didn’t know him but had seen his photos and information on the Raptor Resource Project home page online and he had spent his life working with bald eagles.
Rest assured that when these three juvie bald eagles take off, Rob’s spirit will be flying with them in the form of an eagle: How could it not?
I’d like to thank everyone including RRP and UStream for providing this unique experience for letting us all be right there in the nest—even if we are looking at it on a computer monitor. I’ve learned so much, witnessed so much and laughed when chatters write a post till I think that I am definitely an “eagleholic:” No, I don’t think it. I know I am one. Kudos to the moderators who selfishly are giving their time to keep order and civility on the live chat: You guys rock. And kudos to Bob Anderson who has panned the camera so much so that we can get views that are breathtaking.
If you’re out and about, don’t look down.  Look up! You may just catch the site of a bald eagle soaring above you and you will be witnessing a miracle in feathers. This raptor is the top of the food chain with only man being its enemy—they are nationally protected by law. And well they should be. And also well that they are our national symbol—freedom, strength and majesty is what America stands for and so does the bald eagle.

Sherry Hill

No comments:

Post a Comment