If you've been a fan of this blog for the last few years, you know that I have been following the lives of two beautiful bald eagles living in Decorah, Iowa, as part of The Raptor Project. This educational group installs cameras in different locations around the country that allow us to experience these beautiful creators up close and personal. I have been following this particular pair since 2007, watching them bring 30+ new little lives into the world as they restore the population of bald eagles that for a time was in danger of extinction.
So why, you might ask, do I spend time staring at a computer screen at two very large birds as they go about their business? Because I have always found that studying our animal relations in their natural habitats teaches us how to be better humans. Because as we watch them go through all of the same challenges that we do, although often in different forms, we come to understand our connectedness with our world and everyone in it. They all go out there every day and work to build and maintain their homes, raise, feed and protect their families, and ward off the predators that would threaten their way of life. I have watched them survive snow storms, having the tree that holds their nest blown down in a gale, watched them rebuild their home and their lives, survive the death of one mate and the beginning of a new life with another, laughed at the antics of the fuzzy bits of feathers that baby eagles start out as only to be amazed at how fast they grow, and how soon they leave the nest after only a few months. Year after year they come back to the same nest, make the needed repairs, lay their eggs, and bring forth new life. They are the most devoted parents I've ever seen, never leaving the eggs or the chicks unattended. Dad will even bring Mom food when the little ones are newborn and she needs to spend the majority of her time with them, although Dad gladly takes his turn sitting and woe to anyone or anything that comes even remotely close - his prowess with a wing slap is legendary and deadly!
No matter what is going on in my life at any given time, good or bad, just knowing that I can tune in and watch the dedication, courage and perseverance of these creatures gives me hope. They do what they were put here to do, never complaining, never wanting more, never comparing themselves to other eagles, and the best examples of parenting I've ever seen. Yep, watching them gives me hope. That hope was almost shattered at the end of last season when the original Dad eagle disappeared, and was presumed dead, most likely having been ganged up on by other eagles (they are very territorial - a lot like some humans I know). Eagle parents do not leave their chicks and mates unless they are injured or dead as it is simply not in their nature (a lesson in monogamy and parental responsibility?). All of the thousands of us who follow these eagles rejoiced this year when we saw that Mom had allowed a new male to come into the nest and help her make repairs for the new little ones to come. Thankfully the story will continue. Yep, they give me hope.
We go on, folks, we go on. Through all the storms of our lives, we go on. That's what we were put here to do, and those who would come after us are counting on that.
By the way, I'm not the only one in this household who follows the eagles. Here are some shots of my fur babies enjoying the views:
Charlotte is learning all about nest building here.
Laura is wondering if they are somehow related since they share the same coloring.
And so it is!