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.
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