Return of Eagles

17 Sep


My first wild bald eagle sighting was years ago at Cape Canaveral, Florida. I was on the bus tour and as we drove out to the Assembly Building, the bus driver indicated a huge mass of branches and sticks sitting in the crotch of a huge tree. He told us it was a bald eagle nest. The nest was nearly twelve feet across. Sitting on the edge of the nest was a mature eagle. I had only read about them before and they were still on the endangered species list at that time. My heart went into my throat thinking that this might be the only time in my life I would see one of these magnificent birds. The use of DDT in the fifties and sixties had serious effect on the eagle population. the poison affected the shells of their eggs. thinning them until the weight of the adult bird setting on them was sufficient to crush the eggs. In 1972 a ban was imposed on the domestic use of DDT. However, it would take many years for the eagle population to recover. Thankfully, I would get another chance to see these birds in 1982.

My brother and I were fishing the South Platte River just south of Denver, Colorado. A shadow passed over our heads and we looked up to see a bald eagle gliding just above the tree tops. It soared out over Cooley Lake, dropped down and took a trout out of the water without so much and slowing down. It flapped away to a nearby tree to feast on his catch. What a sight.


The eagles continued to rebound from the brink of existence and in 1995 I got to see something truly special.

The banks along the Mississippi River has become a breeding area for the eagles. The numbers continue to grow as the river provides good fishing opportunities. I was driving across the river bridge to Hudson, Wisconsin when I was blessed with the opportunity to witness the mating flight of an eagle pair. They turned and dove, cartwheeled and climbed, talons grabbed talons as the two giant birds embraced for a few seconds and then plummeted down only to soar up again. there was twenty or so cars that simply stopped on the interstate highway to watch this spectacle.

Deadly dance of rebirth

Deadly dance of rebirth

Last weekend, I was at my cabin and I stepped out onto the deck with my morning coffee. When I closed the sliding door, i heard a whoosh followed by the whistling thump, thump of huge wings lifting and equally huge bird into the air. The eagle had been resting on a branch, fifteen feet above my head. I could actually feel the power and air movement coming from its wings as it took off. It soared out over the lake toward one of the islands as I watched the white head and tail shine in the morning light. It immediately brought me back to the Cape and my first sighting. I hope I never take seeing these birds for granted. It has been a long road back for such a magnificent creature.


Posted by on September 17, 2013 in Musings and Odd Thoughts


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10 responses to “Return of Eagles

  1. char

    September 17, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Super cool pictures! I’ve seen these birds a few times in the wild as well, and it brings awe. They are magnificent creatures.

  2. Dennis Langley

    September 17, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    They are amazing creatures.

  3. 4amWriter

    September 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    We see them every once in a while where I live — NH — but I never get tired of seeing them. I always stop what I’m doing and gawk. We also have an eagle who nests somewhere around our camp at a lake in Maine, and it’s a treat to watch him/her catching fish.

    Supposedly, Seattle is a great place to see them but when my husband was out there for work for 6 months, he never saw one. The first day back home in NH, he saw one flying outside his office window. Go figure.

    • Dennis Langley

      September 17, 2013 at 1:17 pm

      I haven’t been to Seattle but that should be a prime spot for them as they are part of the family of Sea Eagles. Maybe it was just the wrong time of year? Seems odd though that there wouldn’t be a few around..

  4. Matthew Wright

    September 18, 2013 at 12:42 am

    What an amazing experience! Eagles are fantastic birds.I’d love to see one.

    No such beasts here in NZ. There was a giant species – ‘Haast’s Eagle/Harpagornis Moorei’ with a 12 foot wingspan – which went extinct not long after Polynesians arrived, apparently because their main prey was eaten to extinction by humans. There is a story of a possible sighting in 1870 by a settler who promptly shot and ate the bird (as one did back then) but it’s never been confirmed.

    • Dennis Langley

      September 18, 2013 at 7:43 am

      That makes sense. In the 1870’s you either rode it, hitched it to your wagon, married it, or shot and ate it. As one does. 🙂

      12 foot span is a BIG bird! They may have been related as members of the sea eagles family.

  5. byjhmae

    September 18, 2013 at 7:34 am

    I’ve never seen an eagle, but one morning I watched THREE huge vultures hanging out in my backyard. Made me a little paranoid…

    • Dennis Langley

      September 18, 2013 at 8:42 am

      Some people would say that was a sign. 🙂

      They are also and interesting bird.

  6. Eddie Two Hawks

    October 16, 2013 at 9:13 am

    It is a thrill to see these great birds in life or photo. The first photos is excellent!!
    Thank you for subscribing to my site and allowing me to enter your exciting world! Eddie

    • Dennis Langley

      October 16, 2013 at 9:31 am

      Nice of you to join me. We seem to have common interests.


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