Soaring Like An Ego

When I grow up I want to be a bald eagle.

First, they’re the biggest meanest birds in the sky.  Nobody messes with bald eagles.  The babies occasionally get eaten, but the adults have no natural enemies.  (Except humans, but we’re a menace to everything so we don’t really count.)

When the evolutionary goodies were handed out, eagles got flashy plumage, a massive wingspan, a formidable armament of beak and talons, and the ability to soar ‘way up in the sky to look down on all us pathetic earthbound types.  Who, incidentally, all look like dinner to them because they can and will eat just about anything.

You’d think that would be enough perks for one creature; but no.  Humans treat them like nobility, too.  Here on the west coast, landowners have to be aware of Eagle Trees:  any large tree where an eagle might nest.

If you have an Eagle Tree on your property, you aren’t allowed to cut down the tree, and you can’t even disturb the natural vegetation within 60 metres (200 feet) in all directions around it.  That restriction stays in place until no trace of a nest or any possible nesting activity has been seen in the tree for 5 years.

How’s that for a sweet deal?  Imagine flying over any place you’d like to live; choosing the best location for a house, and building there regardless of who currently owns the property.  And then the government makes everyone keep back a respectful distance from your house, even if you haven’t lived there for five years.  I want some of that.

But wait, there’s more.

If you’re an eagle, it’s illegal (see what I did there…?  Okay, sorry…) for people to “possess, take, injure, molest, or destroy” you, your eggs, and/or your nest.  So that crappy nest you built 25 years ago in that tree you haven’t visited in a decade?  It’s still there, just in case you ever want to move back in.  Nobody can knock it down – they can’t even go near the tree.

Better still, even your castoff feathers are venerated.  In the U.S. people can be fined up to $100,000 for possessing eagle feathers they don’t lawfully own.  (In Canada it’s $25,000.)  Since eagles molt and replace their feathers once a year, it sucks to be the person who gets caught with feathers they innocently picked up from the ground; but from the eagle’s perspective, it’s all good.

I’m imagining what it would be like to have people following behind me, carefully preserving my crummy discarded feathers and creating complex laws around them.  After a while my ego would soar like… well, an eagle.

It wasn’t always sunshine and raptors, though:  There’s the small issue of their near-extinction about 40 years ago.  But after battling their way off the Endangered Species List, eagles deserve a bit of adulation.

At least, that’s how I’ll rationalize it when I become an eagle and allow my eagle ego eager egress.  (Okay, you can smack me now; but I just couldn’t resist.)

Bald eagle not amused by my feeble human joke. (Public Domain photo from United States Fish And Wildlife Service.)

Bald eagle not amused by my feeble human joke. (Public Domain photo from United States Fish And Wildlife Service.)

25 thoughts on “Soaring Like An Ego

  1. Eagles truly are a most majestic bird. You will see them frequently now, for sure. Envy.
    The Mongolians train Golden Eagles to hunt wolves. None of this Falcon around stuff for them.
    Americans are changing their national bird to the Balled Ego.


    • Ouch! I feel sorry for the Americans, and also for the Mongolian wolves. You’re right, we see eagles so frequently that it’s hard believe they were endangered only a few decades ago. Even in Calgary we used to see them every now and then, but here they’re a daily sight. There’s an Eagle Tree across the street from the place we’re renting, and a pair of bald eagles occupies it nearly every day, talking back and forth in their “conversational” voices. On the beach, you can always tell when an eagle is coming by the way the seagulls scatter!


  2. So if one is not allowed to pick up a loose feather then don’t the authorities get tired of people calling in about rogue feathers asking them to come and remove it because ‘I ain’t touchin that thing’?

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, fortunately there are no Eagle Trees in the vicinity. That would have been a giant pain! But the eagles can move in now if they want to – we’ve done all the environment disturbance we intend to do. Hubby and I both love the big old-growth trees, so they’re safe from us. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Long ago and far away I worked with a university raptor center for several years before doing it on my own, and I can tell you that it can be a painful experience. Even when you know how to handle them and can usually avoid being injured it is good to have your tetanus vaccinations up to date. The bite is bad enough, but the talons don’t stop until they hit bone or come out the other side. Bald eagles are mostly carrion feeders, but Golden eagles are primarily hunters and are easier to handle. Probably because they KNOW they can beat you up. Releasing them back into the wild is always a thrill, even if they turn and bite you one last time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those beaks and talons scare the shit out of me! I’m thoroughly impressed that you’re brave enough to handle them (and a good enough person to help them). Here in our rental place by the ocean we occasionally see the Goldens and the Balds battle it out over a fish, and the Goldens always win – now I know why!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Our local raptor center brought a live golden eagle who was too damaged to ever be released to a special show of art with an eagle theme. The bird was very impressive. The handler had it out of the cage and opened a wing at one point so we all could see it perfectly well.

    Once I was out painting near the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers when a bald eagle soured down within 15 feet of my head as he headed down towards the lake downhill from my position. Just about the time I caught my breath, its mate swooped down twice as close. They were so silent. So beautiful.

    The Twin Cities metro area has quite a few bald eagles enjoying the metro lifestyle and the more often you’re outdoors near the rivers or lakes, the more likely you’ll see at least one per month.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We were lucky to have an amazing ‘eagle experience’ a few years ago. We were visiting Vancouver Island and we decided to take a ferry over to one of the smaller adjacent islands – Denman Island. There was a short (approx. 1 km) hike out to an elevated point where we could overlook the ocean and a picturesque lighthouse a couple of hundred feet below. When we arrived, there were hundreds of sea lions all floating together in dense groups, with harbour seals playing along the shoreline. We thought it couldn’t get much better than that… until the eagles arrived.

      As we stood there, about 30 or 40 bald eagles soared overhead, swooping down in dizzying arcs to the water and back up again (we deduced that they must be feeding on a big school of herring). We just stood there open-mouthed, watching the aerial ballet of adults and juveniles.

      One of the most fascinating things about the encounter was their conversation. The wildlife shows all depict eagles screaming their predatory cry, but these ones were just talking – little conversational murmurs and whistles like a family discussing their day at the dinner table. It lasted about 20 minutes, and then they scattered; but WOW! What an experience!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I did not know ANY of those things about eagle rules. We have them here because we’re on a river near the ocean, and they hunt up and down the river. I’ll be sure never to pick up a feather if I’m lucky enough to see one! (or I might, but I’ll be sure never to tell anyone …) And excuse my language, for I usually try to be family-friendly, but that Resting Bitch Face on that guy (or gal) is outstanding.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. An aside progress on book 12 looks good, any chance it will be ready before 11th march, just want to take it on holiday with me but no pressure and no rush I can wait just finished 2 books, so the pile going down slowly, but yours would sneak to the top of the pile.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, thanks! I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be released by the 11th – there’s still the whole editing/beta reading/proofreading/print setup process, as well as the cover photography and graphic design. The release date will probably be closer to the end of March, but who knows? Sometimes everything comes together… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve always admired birds, I’d love the ability to just take off and leave everything behind me, do as I please.
    They never have to worry about the next paycheck, or if there’s food in the fridge.

    Yup just be fun being a bird.

    Although having said that I love the comforts of my house

    Liked by 1 person

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