When I was my daughters' ages, seven and nine years old, I had never seen a bald eagle. I think I was probably 30 years old before I saw my first bald eagle in nature, and I don't remember even seeing one in captivity before that. However, living on land between the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, it has become quite common during the past decade to site bald eagles, especially along the larger creeks, streams, and canals.
Yesterday and again today, I had my first eagle encounters since last winter. After a hectic morning of getting my daughters ready for school and myself ready for work, I was finally on my way to work. I took a shortcut backroad that is full of twists and turns, beautiful, old trees, a restored prairie, and the road runs parallel with the Hennepin Canal for a couple of miles. Since I saw two eagles yesterday, I had my eagle eyes ready to spot more today. Sure enough, as I drove down a hill, crossed a bridge over a larger creek, I squinted through the trees and saw two huge bald eagles perched on tree branches. The view was perfect, and I was struck by the size of one of the eagles. The stark contrast of the white heads and dark body feathers was very district, and my breath was taken away by these birds. Who would guess that seeing these birds would cause this reaction? After all, I have a yard full of dainty songbirds that are quite beautiful, with their shades of gold, blue, and red feathers and catchy bird songs. Why would birds that are a simple black and white combination stir me so much?
Over the next few months, as the eagles use local water bodies, I will keep my eyes peeled for views of these beautiful birds. I enjoy seeing these majestic birds not only because they are our national symbol, but seeing them in larger numbers symbolizes that we must be doing something right environmentally, if eagle populations are increasing from the rare numbers of my youth and early adulthood.
I constantly point out wildlife to my daughters as we are driving, but they don't always see what I am trying to show them. This winter, I will make sure that we schedule a time specifically to view bald eagles. We'll bring binoculars and take a hike to get better views.
I would love to capture these gigantic birds in photographs to use in a Rachel Raccoon and Sammy Skunk book. I have taken a few photos of eagles, but to get a better view, I need to purchase a larger lens that is able to zoom in better. For now, I'll stick to taking pictures of plants and inanimate objects to use in Rachel and Sammy books.