Monday, April 6, 2015

MONDAY MUSINGS— OMG, IT'S AN EAGLE





I haven’t always lived in Missouri. Actually, being military kid and spouse, I’ve lived many places. Some breath takingly beautiful some places not. One thing I did learn in all my travels is to look for and see the beauty in the place I am.  It’s there, provided you don’t always use the yardstick of 'home' to measure the standard of beauty. There are many hidden treasures in the places I've seen but, sometimes, you have to hunt for them.

Missouri is actually a beautiful state. It’s full of wild rivers, majestic sandstone cliffs, mountains, huge tracts of forests, and an abundance of animal life. 

Surprisingly so.

A couple of weeks ago, as I was traveling from home to town, I spotted a group of large birds congregated around a roadkill. We have a lot of carrion birds, but what made me do a double-take was the bald eagle in their midst munching away. No missing that white head.  I’ll admit to slowing almost to a crawl as I watched not one, but two take flight. That close to them I realized how huge they really are. Typical wingspan is between 5'9"-7'5". That's a LOT of wing. They weigh about 9-13 pounds and body length over 2-3 feet. Big birds.

Missouri is home to various birds of prey both various hawks as well as the bald (meaning white headed) eagle and the golden eagle. I’ve heard them more than I’ve seen them. I’ve spotted both types of eagles but at a distance. It’s quite another thing  to see bald eagles standing within 20 feet of me and then take wing? Whoa.

My place is rather secluded and as I've said many times, it's beyond the back forty. It's surrounded by forests and open grazing fields and is a great habitat for these birds of prey. There is plenty of water, open areas with concentrations of medium-sized mammals, and quite a bit of carrion. Eagles are opportunist carnivores when it comes to food.

Dark areas are where bald eagles breed. Missouri is one of those areas.
Missouri is one of the areas where the bald eagle nests. Missouri Department of Conservation has a tree nursery, as the crow flies, about two miles from my property. I spoke with one of the employees there and told them about the bald eagles I saw on the side of the road by the nursery.  I was told that this particular pair of eagles do have a nest nearby. They've been tracking them. My husband has seen them hunting down by our pond and the creek when he's been out.  Very cool. 

Most of the breeding bald eagles live closer to St. Louis area (2 hours NE of me) since we have the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers near St. Louis. Much better fishing areas for the eagles since fish is their preferred diet. 

Traditionally, eagles have been as symbols of strength and courage. They are fierce, proudly independent, and beautiful. The bald eagle is indigenous only to North America. After a bitter six year battle in congress, the bald eagle was chosen to represent the United States. It certainly is a majestic bird of prey.

Of course, had we listened to Benjamin Franklin, the national bird would have been a turkey. <grin>

Pictures courtesy of Wiki commons

16 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

It sounds like you live in a beautiful part of Missouri. And awesome you have eagles not only in the state by where you live. They are amazing birds.

Melanie Schulz said...

There are some of their nests on the interstate here--huge nests on top of light poles. It's amazing to think of the size of bird that made those.

Chrys Fey said...

Eagles are beautiful. Sometimes I'll see one flying, but the only time I saw one up-close was at a zoo.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

We have a nesting pair not far from us. There's a webcam set up so the world could watch their two eggs hatch a few weeks ago. We see them flying circles high above our place pretty often. Never saw one as close as you did.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sia - I love the eagle - magnificent creature .. and you're so lucky living in that area - lots of wildlife .. and how great you could find out about the pair.

Fabulous place you must live .. quiet countryside with eagle intrusion! Cheers Hilary

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

At Thanksgiving, we'd give thanks for our national bird...
Cool you saw those bald eagles so close. I usually see the golden eagles and turkey vultures around here. (The latter are also quite large.)

Jeremy Hawkins said...

by my home once a year the eagles come in and get to gathering and the photo ops is amazing.

Welcome in the letter "E"... thank you!
Jeremy [Retro]
AtoZ Challenge Co-Host [2015]

There's no earthly way of knowing.
Which direction we are going!

HOLLYWOOD NUTS!
Come Visit: You know you want to know if me or Hollywood... is Nuts?

Sarah Zama said...

What a fantastic encounter!

I've only seen an eagle once and it was during a falconers' show. Still, it was beautiful. I still remember when she took of I felt like flying away with her, as if I was carried up with her.
It was very strange. But nice :-)

Elephant's Child said...

What an amazing thing to see. Years back we saw a Wedge-tailed Eagle perched on a deceased kangaroo. Goodness it was big. And I still regret being cameraless.

Jo said...

A friend who lives near water, here, has pix of a bald eagle in a tree on her property. Taken last year I think. I must admit I didn't think their range spread into Ontario.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Natalie, they are amazing and I love seeing them fly over the property.

Melanie--those nest are huge. Some over 9 feet wide.

Chrys--I had seen a few perched up high when rafting down a river in northern Wisconsin. Close enough to see it was an eagle but other than that, only place I had been close was watching a falconery showing off their birds of prey.

Susan--I've watched that webcam. Amazing to see them sitting under all that snow and on their eggs. :-)

Hilary--it is pretty fabulous as far as scenery and wildlife.

Alex--lol! yah, I know. Golden eagles range is in your area. Bald eagles breed there too, but did you know those eagles are smaller than bald eagles living in the north and the largest of the bald eagles live in Alaska.

Jeremy--are we talking the birds? or the team? :-)

Sarah--as big as they are when they take off it's not hard to feel like you're taking off with them. :-)

Elephant's Child--I know what you mean being cameraless. I miss some great sights not always having a camera with me.

Jo--the breeding range is right up there around the Great Lakes so you'd see them in Ontario. During breeding time eagles aren't too tolerant of people. They want to be away from all that. Non breeding season will give you more opportunities to see them flying around or if you're near a good sized river or lake, you can catch glimpses of them fishing. :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

My apologies for getting here so late with commenting. I was able to visit a few blogs early this morning but the rest of the day was spent at the doctor office with the kid. We should be getting a MRI tomorrow or Wednesday--depending upon how quick the approval for the MRI from the insurance company.

I suspect we'll be seeing more doctor time this week.

Mark Koopmans said...

Can you imagine if the Presidential Seal had a turkey on it??

But, then again... no, don't get me started !!

How *awesome* you got to see two eagles fly up and away.. I got goose bumps because I'll only ever seen one or two wild eagles myself and they really are breathtaking.

(For some reason, it's one of the few animals/birds that I *don't* like seeing at the zoo...)

Cheers and take care, Sia!! Thanks for swooping in and stopping by :)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Mark, it was my pleasure. Things have been rather crazy around here so while I heard the scuttlebutt about your upcoming book I hadn't really had a chance to visit your blog. I really enjoyed it!

To be honest, it bothers me to see wildlife confined in Zoos. I understand the reasoning, preservation and all that, and I understand all the work many outstanding zoos have done and contributed to knowledge of the magnifiscent animals...still to be confined...ah well. It is what it is. :-)

Sophie Duncan said...

We have golden eagles up in Scotland, but, living in the south of England, I've never seen one :) We have buzzards and red kites in the south now, though, something we didn't have a few years ago, but the buzzards have been moving steadily eastwards from Cornwall and Somerset. Birds of prey are incredible creatures to watch flying. You were really lucky to see two such majestic birds so close :)
Sophie
Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles
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Wittegen Press

Stephen Tremp said...

I have yet to see an eagle in the wild. But we see coyotes all the time.