Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fearing nothing that lies ahead

Two Bald Eagles sit on an ice floe in the Connecticut River
Photo by Mark Yuknat.

Chris Lyons, a past contributor to this website, sent this observation to eBirds on Inauguration Day. Somehow it seems in keeping with the spirit of that momentous day, and I have his permission to reprint it here:

A little before 9am, we were down in Fort Washington Park, more or less in line with 160th Street. The Hudson River was still packed with ice, and scanning north, I saw a big dark bird riding a floe, just south of the George Washington Bridge.

At such a long distance, through 8x binoculars, I wasn't sure what I
was looking at, or even how big it was--I wondered if it could be a crow--no sign of white in the head or tail.

As it continued to drift downriver, I saw the bird flap astonishingly
long powerful wings. Finally it was directly across from us--close enough for us to see the washed-out looking white feathering on the head, just starting to come in, and the powerful looking dull yellow beak--a third or fourth year bird, eating what was probably a fish.

The eagle just kept riding the ice, passing a nearby Coast Guard vessel, floating unconcernedly down past Riverbank State Park and beyond, fearing nothing that lay ahead.

And I won't dwell on the obvious symbolism, but there it is all the same.

Good Birding (and Happy Inaugural)

Chris Lyons


PS from Marie: I didn't want to trump Chris's story by including a photo of TWO eagles on an ice floe. Just wanted to indicate that riding on ice floes is not an unprecedented behavior for bald eagles.