Fly Like An Eagle

Young Bald Eagle in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Young Bald Eagle in Flight (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Haven’t we all dreamed of flying?  Soaring high in the sky, arms spread wide, gliding on the jet stream as we sailed over our town.  Perhaps you traveled further in your imagination, I stayed closer to home.  No matter where our imaginary flights took us, in our dreams they seemed so real, so vivid, so thrilling.  I hadn’t thought about those dreams until viewing the eagles flying overhead at the Shepaug Bald Eagle Observation Area in Southbury, Connecticut: .

Bald Eagle in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Bald Eagle in Flight (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

There are many things about the experience that impressed me deeply.  First, the majestic beauty of these magnificent creatures as they float soundlessly on the wind above your head.  Wings pump occasionally, but otherwise their flight looks completely effortless.  Methodic and peaceful, graceful and dignified.  Harmony personified.  No wonder they were the chosen national emblem for the United States.

What surprised me was the deceptive size of the bald eagles.  When you view them in a tree or in the sky, there is nothing to compare with to determine the magnitude of these regal birds. The wingspan of an adult eagle is from six to over seven feet and their height is up to 34″.  That means if an eagle stood next to me, its head could be well above my waist, and if I stretched my arms as wide as they would go, they would still be over two feet shorter than the eagle’s wing span. Yet, with its considerable size, Haliaeetus leucocephalus weighs in under 10 lbs. for males and up to 14 lbs. for females.

Maturing Bald Eagle in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Maturing Bald Eagle (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Through the scope, I was able to witness “close-up” several bald eagles perched in trees across the Housatonic River over 1000′ away.  As youngsters, they remain brown, and as they age more white appears on the head, until the fifth year when they reach maturity.  I was fortunate to be able to view several young bald eagles, both at rest and in flight.  But the really spectacular event was watching an adult, perched and looking back at me with piercing gold eyes, suddenly take flight and soar right over my head.  It was all I could do to get a few pictures!  And for those few moments I really wished for a professional zoom lens.

Young Bald Eagle in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Young Bald Eagle (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Ranging as far north as Alaska and as far south as Florida, the bald eagle has slowly started to venture back to New England.  However, it remains on the endangered species list in Connecticut, and is considered federally threatened, as well.  Bald eagles don’t reach reproductive maturity until their forth to sixth year, and then may have one to three offspring each year they choose to. (In other words, for reasons unknown, they don’t consistently nest every year).  In Connecticut, the eaglets hatch in spring and are on their own in five months.  Getting through the winter months is crucial, but those that survive can live up to thirty years.  Here in Connecticut, we have approximately 100 bald eagles, and a reported 18 nesting pairs.  Let’s hope that population continues to grow.  In the meantime, fly like an eagle, if only in your dreams . . .

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