It wasn’t long ago when bald eagles were an endangered species. More recently, you might see one, on rare occasions, on a lake in northern Minnesota. In recent years, they have multiplied to the point where sightings on the way to work are no rarity.
This was a first, however. I was heading toward my garage this morning to leave for a breakfast meeting when I caught a glint of something bright white through a kitchen window, coming from across our pond. I stopped and looked: the white patch seemed too large to be a bird. But I walked out onto our deck to make sure. It was, indeed, an eagle sitting in a tree across the pond. After a few moments, I saw him move his head. That was when I got out my iPhone for some rather lame photos. This was as good as they got:
I watched him for a couple of minutes and then–not wanting to be late for my meeting–walked down my deck, thinking that might cause him to fly. It did. He took off from the limb on which he had been perched and swooped around our pond, right in front of me. He then rose up over a line of trees and flew on.
Naturally, when he took flight I panicked and snapped off several pictures, none of which, upon later inspection, contained the eagle. But it was a heart-stopping sight.
I have written a number of times about urban and suburban wildlife, for no particular reason except that I find the subject intensely interesting. For whatever reason, more and more formerly-seldom-seen species are finding it congenial to live in proximity to humans. In my neighborhood, wild turkeys are abundant, foxes are pretty commonly sighted, coyotes are a threat to pets, giant snapping turtles are a hazard, deer commonly wander by, hawks are so common you can’t drive down the street without seeing them, and we have even had a bear or two nearby. And now a bald eagle on our pond.
I can’t explain it, but when I was growing up in a much wilder environment in South Dakota, there was nothing like this parade of wildlife through town. Maybe it was the universal ownership of shotguns and rifles that prevailed in those days, I don’t know. For whatever reason, we are living in a golden age of suburban wildlife.