Thrilling Sighting

We teach the Project WILD lesson on food chains and how DDT is known to travel through them.  We talk with fourth graders about how dangerously low Bald Eagle populations had fallen due to the way DDT affects egg production in females resulting in weak and brittle shells that break easily sometimes causing hatching to occur prematurely.  In addition to DDT use, habitat destruction and hunting served to decrease eagle populations.

I always ask how many of the kids have ever seen a Bald Eagle in the wild.  In every classroom hands go up.  I explain that if someone had asked that question in my fourth grade class, no hands would have gone up.  DDT was banned two years before I graduated from high school.  We simply did not see this bird when we were kids.  Today, we see eagles nearly every day in Chautauqua County.

Eagle on NestThis morning, I hiked out to a spot where eagles have nested in the past to see if the nest will be used again this year.  It wasn’t hard to spot the huge blob of sticks near the top of a leafless tree.  I kept my distance so as not to disturb the eagles.  I found a tree to lean against and settled in to observe for a while.  It wasn’t long before I caught sight of an American Bald Eagle soaring near the nest.

Eagle Soaring

Soon, the eagle coasted in for a landing on a tree near the nest.  I heard the strange screechy calls eagles make… Eagle Perched South of Nestand it wasn’t long before a second eagle came into the picture.  Together they flew in a wide circle around the nest, then landed in another nearby tree.

I watched in fascination as the pair engaged in…  well… shall we say… an intimate moment.  (I wish I had switched from binoculars to camera… but I didn’t!)

The pair sat in the tree for several minutes before they finally stretched their wings again.  One of the birds landed briefly in the nest, then left to fly in wide circles around it.  Just before I left, she (I assume it was the female) landed on the nest once again, and this time settled in so that only her head appeared above the rim.

Eagle Soaring Near Nest

I can’t begin to describe how thrilling it was for me to watch this…  a bird that was on the brink of extinction in my lifetime now thrives here where I live and work.  It was a spectacular morning!

Learn more:  http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Bald_Eagle.html

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7 thoughts on “Thrilling Sighting

  1. Hopefully the eagles will start to nest in our area again instead of just wintering here. I haven’t seen an eagle’s nest. Our local osprey prefer hydro poles with transformers to trees.

  2. I agree that it’s always a thrill to see the eagles! I’m fortunate to be able to see them nearly every day and it never fails to be an exciting sight!

  3. It was a spectacular morning, a spectacular story, AND the photos you took aren’t nearly as bad as you claimed to me they were going to be! Some of us don’t need close-ups to get the picture.

  4. That reminds me…when Matthew and I were skiing on a boulder strewn mountain face last month, 2 bald eagles circled above US! (I think we were a bit lower on the food chain on that run…) As you mentioned, I never saw bald eagles growing up. No matter their growing population, they are still a thrill to see.

  5. The recovery of bald eagles (and other birds) is an amazing success story. It’s hard to believe there is currently a movement seeking to discredit Rachel Carson and the banning of DDT.

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