On eagles wings

My daughter and I enjoyed a thrilling spectacle during a recent walk along the river. We saw a bald eagle swoop down, capture its prey and pause regally mid-river as rapids swirled around. Meanwhile, the eagle’s partner waited in a nearby tree and a third eagle lounged in a giant nest on the other side of the river, no doubt expecting to be called to dinner.

Bald eagles have made our section of the Fox River home and we regular river rats get to watch them swoop and preen every day. I always thrill to see them perched on a high branch or soaring majestically overhead.

We didn’t always have eagles along our river. In fact, it took a lot of collaborative effort to lure them back. In a year rife with bad news, we Wisconsinites might have missed an important and very positive announcement. After a 17- year effort by federal, state, local and tribal governments working with private businesses, the EPA, in conjunction with all of those entities, announced the completion of the Fox River Cleanup Project on Sept. 2, 2020.

The $1 billion project to remove PCBs from the river restored 10 billion gallons of river water in one of the world’s largest sediment cleanups, according to this DNR website.

It also brought life in the form of pelicans, fish and eagles back to the Fox River. While I love to see them all, I am especially fond of the bald eagles. Eagles hunt wisely, they dive in a specific way that blocks the sun, which temporarily blinds their prey. They have large eyes, excellent vision and a fascinating ability to rotate their heads 210 degrees. You can watch them survey their surroundings using all these tools in a prudent, thoughtful way.

Gifted with power and a natural grace, Eagles move with economic precision, they don’t flail. They’re loyal to their cause, mate for life, take parental responsibilities seriously, share them equally, work hard and conduct themselves with dignity.

Every time I see a bald eagle I think about all it represents to this powerful but still fledgling nation of ours. I find it especially profound during these troubling times that a collaborative governmental effort brought them back to us.

My friend Deb Cook is a gifted nature photographer. She took this shot…
…this one, of a bald eagle coming in to land. ..
…and this one of a bald eagle surveying the land. Such dignity and elegance!
Another friend, Mark Shropshire took this shot of three eagle in a tree right in our neighborhood. It’s hard to tell males from female eagles, except that the females are usually bigger than the males, because they all have the same plummage. I think it’s so cool to spot three of them in the same tree.
That’s the eagle we spotted watching his or her partner rustle up dinner in the river below. I love the dignity, purpose and strength bald eagles display and I think we’re going to need all of that moving forward in this country. I also love that our local, state and federal governments worked with tribal leaders and private companies to cleanup the mess that made our river formerly uninhabitable . I think we’re going to need that kind of collaboration moving forward as well. There’s a lot of hope, though, you can see it right there on eagles wings.

5 thoughts on “On eagles wings

  1. Hi Laura. First of all, I love reading your blog. You keep our interests up! Secondly, here in Southern California, we have been watching on a live cam two bald eagles who are up at Big Bear. Yesterday Jackie laid her first egg of 2021, but a raven came down and ate it! Jackie is thought to be laying another egg tomorrow. You can go on Youtube and look for “Big Bear Bald Eagle Cam” to watch Jackie and her partner Shadow. Thank you.

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