The World Bird Wednesday Archive

World Bird Wednesday is open for submissions every Tuesday at noon E.S.T. to Midnight on Wednesday by clicking on the WBW logo picture below.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

World Bird Wednesday XXXV

                                Bald Eagle: No Big Deal?

"He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed."
                                                                                                                             Albert Einstein

   I was 19 the first time a Bald eagle soared into my world. My career as a vagabond had begun the year before with hitchhikes from Detroit to Florida and then from Motown to That new summer I was back in the American West. My hiking partner and I were traipsing through the high country around Estes Park, Colorado when across the distance we saw a black spot cutting through the air between the peaks. Even at that great distance the speck soon took on the white/brown/white spectrum that let us know a Bald eagle was in our midst. To our astonishment the bird flew directly at us and without as much as a single beat of it's wings crossed directly over our heads. I fell on my back side and gasped in awe at the shear size and presence of the creature above me. It's curiosity satisfied, the eagle drifted off and was lost to my eye. I was lucky to see an eagle that day and I would not see another for thirty odd years.

My eagle sighting took place in the summer of 1973 the same year the Endangered Species Act was passed. A survey was completed the next year and only 791 breeding pairs of Bald eagles were found in the entire lower 48 states. From sea to shining sea so to speak. That was good news since just 10 years earlier in 1963 a remnant of only 487 nesting couples were counted from the estimated population of 100,000 pairs thought to have existed in 1782 when the Eagle won a fierce battle with the turkey to become the national symbol of the United States. A lot of blood was spilled in the 19th and 20th centuries both literally and figuratively as human beings began drinking deeply of our planet's treasures and both the turkey and Bald eagle would come close to landing in nature's scrap heap.
   The concept of "Better Living Through Chemistry" came into it's hey-day during WWII when the miracle insecticide DDT was scrubbing the world clean of the yucky little creatures that inhabit the margins of our civilization. It seemed like a good idea at the time, after all, who hasn't wondered in a secret moment about the Lord's wisdom in creating the mosquito and we certainly wouldn't attempt to anthropomorphise the best of human nature using a malaria carrier as our totem. And so the domino's began to fall as the poison swept up the food chain until it threatened to finish off the revered Bald eagle once and forever. Fortunately we Americans required the charismatic raptors as a metaphor to describe our own grand illusions and could not stomach the obvious grim symbolism of its impending doom. We would not tolerate the shameful loss of our national icon even if it meant our potatoes, apples, chickens, and cows could no longer dance with us ecstatically on a bug free world stage. In 1972 DDT was banned in the U.S.  Brilliant move.

  When I first moved to the Pine River seven years ago and began to appreciate the marvelous variety of bird life around me I struck up a conversation with an older head who predicted that we would again have Bald eagles back in our area within five years. At the time it sounded like a hopeful bit of nonsense. I am elated to report that the old timer's premonition was right on the money. These days, 'round here, you'll see an eagle every day if you keep your head up. Bald Eagles were taken off the endangered species list in 2007 when nesting couples had reached a population of nearly 10,000. Whew, that was close!
  There is even an official Bald eagle day here in the U.S. celebrated June 20th when we're asked to wear B.E. tee shirts and rejoice in our patriotic ideals. I made a motion we also wear mosquito tee shirts in a subtle effort to empathise the larger circle of life lessons learned from the recovery of our majestic eagles. That motion was squashed!

   It is a great world, what's left of it. And I'm grateful to to the energetic and devoted people who did the heavy lifting back in the year 1940 to get the Bald Eagle Protection Act passed that made any human interference with the life cycle of the Bald and Golden Eagles illegal, like shooting them for target practice as an example.
  Survival of the fittest is the way of this world, no question, I get that. Summing it up unpoetically; we live to eat only to be eaten. My Grand Hope for Homo-Sapiens is that we might someday see ourselves as a buffer to that Darwinian harshness and help to preserve our planets vastness instead of being so enthusiastic about consuming it. I would like it if we humans thought of ourselves as planet Earth's librarians, cataloging and preserving its wonders. I realise that for some "Librarian to the Planet" might sound like a demotion from our current lofty position as self-proclaimed Lords of the Universe.

   Awe, that simple, vastly underrated emotion humans feel when confronted with a force or thing immensely greater than themselves, might be the natural worlds, and in that our own, best salvation. I felt awe the first time I saw waves break on the Pacific Ocean, caught sight of the snow capped Rockies, and observed the Northern Lights. Awe inspires respect and puts the order of things in their proper perspective. To experience awe changes a person. It is the emotion that can energises our best intentions, guide our principles, and help us to pay closer attention to the Big Picture. The feeling of awe gives us hard evidence that the world is not here for just "us guys," and that seeing a Bald eagle floating in the mountain air can and should always be a big deal!

 Now it's time for World Bird Wednesday!

   This is the home of World Bird Wednesday. A place for bird photographers from around the world to gather and share their photographs and experiences as they pursue Natures most beautiful treasurers, the birds.
   World Bird Wednesday will be open for posting at 12 noon Tuesday EST North America through midnight on Wednesday.
   You are invited to link your blog with other bird photographers in a weekly celebration of these most diverse and intriguing of Earth's residents.

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#1. Simply copy the above picture onto your W.B.W. blog entry. It contains a link for your readers to share in WBW. Or you can copy this link on to your blog page to share W.B.W.
#2. Come to The Pine River Review on Tuesday Noon EST North America through Wednesday midnight and submit your blog entry with Linky.

#3. Check back in during the course of the next day and explore these excellent photoblogs!

The idea of a meme is that you will visit each others blogs and perhaps leave a comment to encourage your compadres!

Come on it's your turn!