Old Ben said it best:
“For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.
“With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country…
“I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”
The above was in a letter that Ben Franklin wrote from France on January 26, 1784 to his daughter Sally. Old Ben did have his opinions and was fond of sharing them, eh?
Eagles mate for life… or at least until one of the partners die and they do and will find another mate for whats left of their life. That should earn them some points, eh? Well, swans, geese, and some owls also mate for life and, many birds are at least monogamous for each mating cycle. So… what’s so special about the Bald Eagle? According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology these birds are known for harassing smaller birds and stealing their prey. Hmmm… they sound a bit like bullies to me, but then they are powerful flyers and do have that magnificent hooked bill and sharp talons… And the white head and tail feathers does give them a distinctive look.
Yesterday morning, while acting out our dawn routine on the aft deck, drinking coffee, reading email, the usual Flipboard nonsense, and just gazing about, we noticed that there were several eagles flitting about in the Douglas Firs just off our stern. We first noticed a lone adult sitting on the top of a very tall tree with a few juvies gliding about overhead. After a few minutes another adult landed next to the other adult already on its perch and we noticed that there were 4 juvies gliding about the two adults. Every once in a while one of the juvies would do a fake dive at a parent, practicing for future hunting episodes. After a bit of reading about the usual brood size of one to three eaglets, we found that a clutch of four was a bit rare. Delightful to have a rarity gliding about the trees above us…
I wish I could offer up a personal picture of the local tribe, but my cell phone camera is not really the tool to offer up a picture that would give the situation any weight. Little dots hovering over a forest of green trees with a blue sky backdrop just does not offer up a real feeling of the moment. The only picture I do have… was a bird at close range taken by someone with a good camera at hand:
So here we are… Represented by an image that is in reality an opportunistic absconder, wrapped in family values, revered for its piercing gaze, powerful flight characteristics,and interesting feathery. A representational collage that melds nobility, power, domestic assistance, and opportunism into a national emblem. It is of interest that an olive branch and arrows (representing peace and war, respectively) were included in the eagle’s talons.
Ach… but to have been a fly on the congressional wall when it was discussed… Short of that… we are feeling quite fortunate to be anchored in Garrison Bay, on a sunny day, delighted that Eagles and Great Blue Herons are in abundance and that they perform occasional fly-bys just to make sure we take note of their presence. It is not something we take for granted…