The Eagles Have Landed


He is watching you. 

The bald eagle is the national bird of the United States of America. The founders of the United States were fond of comparing their new republic with the Roman Republic, in which eagle imagery (usually involving the golden eagle) was prominent. On June 20, 1782, the Continental Congress adopted the design for the Great Seal of the United States depicting a bald eagle grasping 13 arrows and an olive branch with thirteen leaves, with its talons.

The eagles are flying up to the roof tops on the houses in the neighborhood.  This shot is right next door to our home. 

We have the fortune or misfortune, depending on how you view it, of living close to the Missouri River.  It is out of its banks and up to the base of the levees surrounding Council Bluffs.  Living on a golf course we have a beautiful lake adjoining the golf course that we can enjoy from the back of our home.  The lake is actually a retention pond that drains the streets and the houses in the development, and also the golf course when it rains.

Master of all he sees.

This year the lake overflowed and is slowly draining, provided we do not get big pounding rain storms.  On the golf course small ponds formed leading to the main body of the lake and fish were seen flopping around in the ponds.  Then they came.  First it was the egrets.  These tall stately looking birds were very hard to photograph and arrived just at daylight.  Slowly they would walk along the edges of the lake and ponds grabbing fish.

Pam and I got up at first light and sat out on the deck to drink our morning cups of coffee. Just then, two bald eagles flew in and landed along the edges of the ponds and lake.  They would each grab a fish and fly off to one of the roof tops across the lake to devour it.  They were immensely patient and would stand in one place or slowly walk along the banks and pause, then jump up and grab a fish.  Periodically, they would leap into the air, circle around and come back to land in a different place or swoop down with talons out and grab a fish out of the water.  (I am going to go buy a video camera).  Watching the eagles is the best way to start off the morning.

We were amazed at this. He walked out into the standing grass and Wham! He picked up a fish and flew away.  What a way to start a morning. 

 

They hang out right at the edge of the lake or fly up to a rooftop and observe.  That bird is in danger of being eaten. 

The best part came when one morning Pam called to me to come quickly and see what was next door.  There standing on the high point of our next door neighbor’s roof was an eagle.  I shot pictures through the kitchen window and then went outside to the front to get a better shot.  The bird never moved when I went outside.  It just sat there in a stately fashion and looked around.  He leaped into the air and floated down to the lake, grabbed a fish, and dropped down to the edge of the lake and dined.

Check out his talons.

Next, we saw that two birds would fly up to the same roof top and hang out.  Pam walked out the back door onto the deck and there were the two of them looking down at her from the roof top.  She grabbed the camera, went back out, but one flew away.  The other just sat there.  Then it flew to a neighbor’s roof to join its friend or mate.

This was the first time we saw the pair hanging out together.  Generally they are not close to one another and each will perch on a different roof top.  

These birds are magnificent, so it was time to do a little background reading on them.  The bald eagle is an opportunistic carnivore with the capacity to consume a great variety of prey. Fish comprise 56% of the diet of nesting eagles, birds 28%, mammals 14% and other prey 2%.Bald eagles can fly with fish at least equal to their own weight, but if the fish is too heavy to lift, the eagle may be dragged into the water.   It has been estimated that the gripping power (pounds by square inch) of the bald eagle is ten times greater than that of a human.

 

We believe this is what she is saying to him, “Look bud, I am sick and tired of eating fish all the time.  Why don’t you find some tasty rodents to eat or some road kill.  You have to do better than this.  Our relatives over at Lake Manawa have a variety.”  And he says to her,  “You have a nice nest here by the river.  You are never satisfied.”  

What we would like to find is the nesting area.  With all the water next to the levees, our plan is to walk the levees south of where we live and look for large trees that have a lot of elevation and the boughs are big and spread out.  We plan on waiting till fall to do this as we do not want to disturb the nest.

Ahhhh, peace and quiet.  Now to wait for a nice tasty fish to show itself. 

We will be up early next morning to catch all the action watching them soar and plunge towards the water with talons extended to pluck breakfast out of the lake.  

For an entertaining read, buy my book from Amazon.  Click on the book and go direct to Amazon. 

Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

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