Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Eaglet watching

I've been watching an eagle nest in Decorah, Iowa for four years now, and each has been an adventure, each one somewhat the same, but different as well.  This year has been very special.  The dutiful parents repaired and upgraded the nest, sometimes disagreeing where a particular piece of branch/limb should go, and where a corn husk or chunk of dried grass should be placed.  But, overall they did a good job of making a perfect bed for the babies.

Before long the eggs were nestled deep within the bowl of the nest and mom and dad took over the chore of keeping them incubated.  24/7 they pulled and tugged at the tufts of grass and corn husks making sure the eggs were protected on all sides.

This year early spring was awful.  The temperatures were bitter, bitter cold, and often mom and nest were covered with snow.  No matter how cold it got or how much snow fell upon the parents, the eggs were never left to the elements.  The switch off of egg sitting was always hasty and followed by the a fore mentioned pulling and tugging of the nesting material.

Oh yes, I watched these babies from birth, tiny, bald, blind creatures that they were.  To this morning when they are so large and eager to flee they are practically knocking each other out of the nest.

Over the last weekend, during the night, the eaglets were attacked by barred owls; one eaglet in particular took the brunt of the attack.  You see, the nest has a camera pointed at it all the time and it has night vision a capability; as a result, the attack was caught on camera.  It was awful.  And after the second dive attack I could no longer bear to watch.  The poor eaglet was in dire straits. 

Sunday evening the poor thing lay in the center of the nest, breathing heavily, wings slightly spread, head leaning awkwardly on its side.  Yesterday morning, things didn’t look much better.  Frankly, I was very, very worried.  Things looked bleak for this feathered creature.  I stewed and fretted. 

Not knowing what else to do, I took my computer mouse, and stopped it directly on top of the ailing baby, and prayed.  I simply asked that this magnificent creature be blessed and made whole again.  Please, Lord.

Let it never be said one’s prayers are not answered, because they are.  By late afternoon yesterday, the injured eaglet was up, moving around, and although not completely 100%, it was obvious it was well on its way to recovery.  I prayed again.  Thank you, Lord.

Then, last night there was a thunder storm over Decorah.  When I checked the nest I could only see two, water logged, bedraggled eaglets.  What had happened to the third?  I watched, and watched, and watched.  Eventually the rain stopped, and the birds began to shake the excess rain from their drenched bodies.  There, almost out of camera range I began to see movement, it was the third eaglet.  What a relief!

I went to bed a very happy camper.

This morning it is 72 degrees and the sun is shining in Decorah.  I learned the national weather service reports some very nasty weather is headed that direction.  Checking the eagle nest, I can see all three eaglets are up and moving about.  I can tell injured eaglet still has a way to go before it is ready to leave the nest for good.  Frankly, what the final outcome will be for this feathered creature I do not know.  I can only hope it survives the weather and its injuries.  Really, all I can do is hold good thoughts…

…and say a few more prayers, too.

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