Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Afternoon Delight ~ A New Beginning!

Monday Hubby and I spent most of the late morning and early afternoon ... 


... watching these two magnificent creatures enter into an intricate and beautiful mating ritual. They soared too swiftly for me to capture them in the air and whenever I put the camera into video mode there was too many human noises to capture their mating calls, which were lovely and beguiling.

They would dance in the sky towards and away from one another and then, listening to some inner song throbbing through the blood of those belonging to the clan of the eagle, they meet and, as one, they turn and soar, twisting and rolling then suddenly plummeting only to swoop upwards once again. Swaying to and fro  first in a waltz the next minute their antics could only be termed midflight break dancing  when just as suddenly as it had started they would part and slowly circle away from one another. The whole while they call out to each other, speaking their own language of love, the cooing and whistles growing softer and softer.

The sunlight was so brilliant it was hard to look at the sky for too long and yet each time we dragged our eyes away, to give them a moment of reprieve from the glare, the eagles would once again begin their dance and our eyes would once again be pulled skyward.

Today, from far away, I heard the eagles calling to one another and I wonder if they are in their tree or hunting, or stealing some other predators kill. Eagles aren't known to greatly enjoy hunting for themselves, supposedly they would much rather take the kill of others. But we do not have bears, cougar nor wolves nearby for them to follow and pick up tidbits from. We have nutri, beaver, raccoon,  skunk, coyote, chickens and other such farm critters. Our river is not known for its abundant fish but we are only a hop, skip from the Youngs Bay and the eagle nest may overlook it.

It is funny at the same "expert" site it will say that the eagle is a scavenger bird and then will also note that salmon is a staple for the bird. After the fish has been caught by something else? When you watch salmon after they have spawned they are quite mushy, slow, dying. Quite easy to catch.

And yet, I have seen these birds pluck salmon out of the river and snap branches off a tree. I think the eagle is not so much a scavenger but an opportunist, one that has the tools and resources if it has to use them but chooses to clean up after everyone else instead. You don't see turkey buzzards plunging into the Columbia River, you see them at the side of the road looking for the opossum you hit last night because it has no choice. The regal eagle chooses to pick up the mess left behind. 

Its all about perspective. 

Today a third eagle flew above the two as they cooed at one another in their mating tree. After the storm of '07 we didn't know if the eagles would have a home to return to. It is nice to see that they have returned, year after year, and appear to bring children and grandchildren with them. According to many of the eagle "authority" sites eagles protect approximately one to two square air miles around their nests. Do eagles recognize their parents? Do they drive away their own? Who was the third eagle and why did none  of the three seem alarmed? Did their mating distract two of them? Was the single eagle offspring come back to check on mom and dad? Or maybe it was a granddad come to check on the newlyweds? All we could tell was that all three were bald eagles meaning all were at least four or five years old (according to the "authorities").