Bald Eagles are all the talk on these cold winter days where I live in the Hudson Valley.
At least once a week, my postmaster’s eyes light up when she greets me and says, “Hey, bird lady, I saw another Bald Eagle the other day.”
Wintering Bald Eagles are all around us, feasting on fish from the Hudson River and surrounding lakes and reservoirs stocked with trout. (The Ashokan Reservoir is stocked with over 16,000 brown trout every spring.)
One of my favorite sights is an eagle sitting on a piece of ice, hitching a free ride down the river.
Seeing Eagles in the Wild
Seeing Bald Eagles in the wild is something I never take for granted. Although they live in my area year-round, you need to be in tune with nature, or it’s easy to miss them.
Walking the span of Ashokan Reservoir in Olivebridge, NY, I’m touched by the joy people express when they see the pair of resident Bald Eagles that call the reservoir their home.
Seeing these beauties is a privilege and puts an exclamation point on time spent in nature.
The naturalist, John Burroughs, wrote, “He (the Bald Eagle) draws great lines across the sky; he sees the forests like carpets beneath him; he sees the hills and valleys as folds and wrinkles in a silver colored tapestry; he sees the river as a silver belt connecting remote horizons.”
I see the Bald Eagle as a magnificent gift from nature.
Seeing Bald Eagles Evoke Emotions
So what about these birds that evoke such strong emotions that leave us in awe?
Emotion contributes to what we remember and seeing an eagle stirs many feelings.
It can be a sense of pride and patriotism since the Bald Eagle is our national bird. The eagle appears on the President’s flag, the mace of the House of Representatives, U.S. military insignia, and billions of quarters and one-dollar bills.
Eagles appear on official documents, public buildings, and other government-related items.
The bird’s gained even more cache appearing in comic books, ranging from Superman and Super Girl to Captain America, gracing the cover of various issues.
The eagle also played a starring role in important moments in American history. On July 20, 1969, the crew of Apollo 11 landed their lunar module ‘Eagle’ on the surface of the moon. They called the module the ‘Eagle,’ matching their insignia of a Bald Eagle landing on the moon with an olive branch signifying strength and peace.
Native Americans chose the eagle and its feathers to symbolize what is highest, bravest, strongest, and holiest. In the Native American culture, they give eagle feathers to one another in honor and wear the feathers with dignity and pride.
The Bald Eagle is the noblest of birds. It exudes power, strength, beauty, and fortitude and sits atop the wildlife food chain for a good reason.
In short, the Bald Eagle is an American icon.
Check back next week for another eagle-related story. And if you live in the Hudson Valley, take a trip up to the Ashokan Reservoir to see Bald Eagles in their natural habitat, and be sure to say hello. You can’t miss me. I’m the one carrying a camera.