Eagle’s Nest #5/52

I happened upon this adventure by a stroke of luck…

While talking with a friend a few weeks ago, he told me about an eagle’s nest and promised, “Once the babies are bigger, [my wife and I] will show you.  If the nest is bothered when they’re too young, the parents will abandon them.”

So.  This week I met them for the big visit, and we made our way across a field to a creek bed at the edge of the woods.

I’m not sure what the eagle prerequisites are for real estate, but this pair had set up house at the top of a very scraggly pine tree.  Although large, the nest was not easy to find; you had to know where to look.  Once I was pointed in the right direction, I pulled out binoculars and was able to see a large black bird sitting in the nest:  Baby!  The adult eagles were nowhere to be seen.

We moved west of the woods line so that we could get a closer look – and by “closer,” I mean that we were still a good 150 feet away.  This, however, was too close for Mama and Papa, who arrived out of nowhere.

I can’t describe what I felt in seeing two bald eagles soaring overhead.  I was, and still am, awestruck.  They moved fast, and I had to anticipate their flight path in order to see them with the binoculars.  As I gave myself vertigo trying to follow them in the sky, my friend – a wonderful photographer – snapped frame after frame with his camera.  The eagle pair made “clicking” sounds and then resorted to a cry resembling that of a gull.  Clearly, they were upset and trying to chase us off… although my friends surmised that the adults may just be trying to ascertain whether they could “pick off the small one” (that would be me!)  Meanwhile, back at the nest, Junior knew his parents had returned and sat with his mouth open, waiting.  We didn’t stay much longer.

As we crossed the creek and headed back uphill, the adult eagles followed us overhead to make sure we were leaving.  By the time we neared the road, they had returned to the woods.

I’ve seen hawks, of course, and ospreys while kayaking – a Great Horned Owl even lives nearby – but this was the first time I’ve ever seen a bald eagle in its natural habitat.