In the Garden, the Eagle has Landed

A Bald Eagle (photo above) stopped by to visit my Longleaf Pine Tree (Pinus palustris) yesterday.  I thought it was a good time to dust off and republish one of my lost articles on this majestic beauty.

Dateline: February 13, 2015*

The graceful flight of this raptor doesn’t match up with the flight of a vulture (© 2016)

As I looked up to the sky, the vultures were flying overhead in full force.  I suspect the remains of some dropped prey may have been in the 3-acre lot across the street.  Vultures in my neighborhood are a routine affair. I live within a mile (as the crow flies) of a wildlife management area and a ranch in cow country can be seen in the distance from my kitchen window.

Well, well, well, who do we have here?

As I watched with interest at the vast number of both turkey and black vultures hovering, I spotted an alien, one who just didn’t match up.  He soared with a lot more grace and the unmistakable white-feathered head made me curse the fact that I didn’t have my camera in my hand.

As I continued to look up I lost the beauty of a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in the sun.  This raptor has been the national emblem of the United States since 1782.

Let me zoom a little closer

Then, across the way, high in a bald-cypress tree (Taxodium distichum) I spotted it.  How appropriate that the Bald Eagle would be perching in a tree with “bald” in the name.  And, at this time of year being deciduous they are “bald”…the trees, not the birds. The fine leaves of the tree should be making a comeback as soon as the weather warms.

The delicate leaves of a bald-cypress will return once spring rolls around

You can find these Florida native trees in wet locations.  The older ones may have the trademark “knees” which are formed by lateral roots creating a structure above the ground.  This phenomenon gives them a wide base; especially those trees that live in seasonally inundated locations.

You can see feathers of the Bald Eagle blowing in the breeze

As it turns out, the eagles aren’t bald at all. They just have a white head in sharp contrast to the deep brown coloring on the body.  These birds have a wide range of diet.

They eat birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates such as crabs, and mammals including rabbits and muskrats. They take their prey live, fresh, or as carrion.”

They look every which way from their perch in search of food

In my neck of the woods, look for unmistakable HUGE nests in tall longleaf pine trees (Pinus palustris) or mature live oak trees (Quercus virginiana) which are also tall and stately.

I prayed the bird would hang around long enough for me to get my camera.  As luck would have it, eagles spend a lot of time scanning vast areas from their perch and birdie was there when I returned.  Whoever came up with the term “eagle eye” must have been a birder. My vantage point was a bit of a distance for clearer pictures, but a wonderful encounter at any rate.

Our national emblem

While eagles are not inclined to spend too much time in areas of dense development, you may find one will pop in if there is a tall landing spot and good potential prey.  So plant a tree, encourage wildlife and hope for the best.

The following picture is of one that landed on a snag in my beautiful wildlife garden back in 2010.

It’s great when they actually land IN my beautiful wildlife garden

*This tale was originally published by Loret T. Setters on February 13, 2015 at the defunct national blog beautifulwildlifegarden[dot]com. Click the date to view reader comments.

 

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