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Eagles

          All this spring I’ve been mesmerized by a webcam placed in a tree (I’m easy to please). It is aimed at the nest of a pair of golden eagles, who hatched two eaglets back in January. At first you just saw an eagle sitting in its nest, looking around, giving the eagle-eye to this and that. Then it would stand up and poke around in the nest, turning the eggs. After the eggs hatched, you’d see the same basic scene, but then the second eagle would return with something to nosh on, and you’d be able to see just a tiny sliver of what looked suspiciously like a twig scissor open from within the nest, and the parent eagle would barf into it. This is our national heritage, people, don’t get all wobbly on me!

          The eaglets grow astonishingly fast on barf. In nine weeks they grew from four ounces to six to eight pounds, and are now actually bigger than their parents (this is because the immature birds have longer feathers, presumably to aid them in their clumsy attempts at flight). Granted, at some point they moved on from barf to solid food provided by the folks, but still: that’s a hurried childhood. Another interesting bit about eagles which I bet you didn’t know, and didn’t care much one way or the other about, is that the females are larger than the males, and the parents share parenting equally. They also return year after year to the same nest and add on to it, so it can wind up being three meters wide; a veritable real estate starter-castle worthy of a full page, full color ad in the Sunday supplement.

          But back to the drama of Birdie and Bogey, as the eaglets have been named by the good people of Port Saint Lucie, Florida. Now is a particularly mesmerizing time in their lives, for they are preparing for flight. Mid morning seems to be a good time to watch them, as the folks are out frantically holding down two jobs each just to keep the young’uns in small animals and fish, and the teens have the nest to themselves. Then they tend toward flirting with danger, as teens will. They stand on the edge of the nest, looking down at Lake Tesoro below, and probably thinking incessantly about what a rush it would be to jump. From time to time they spread their wings and your heart leaps because it looks exactly like they are about to take flight. Then, just when your eyes are glued to the screen, and your palms are getting a little sweaty because you’re just positive you are about to witness the Maiden Voyage of little Birdie or Bogey, it jumps!

          Not off, but up a little bit, just feeling what it will be like to have the wind under his or her wings. Sometimes they even leap-fly from one side of the nest to the other. Its riveting. I don’t know how people can bear the ennui of watching action movies or popular television, when this is available. Go check it out:

http://audubonofflorida.org/friendsoftheeagle/updates.html

Keep in mind that the webcam is in Florida, and it isn’t on when its night there.

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