#7 Cobbosseecontee Lake, Maine 9/5/05
Bald Eagles were chosen to be America's bird for good reasons. Grace, power, beauty...all things we would like associated with our country, whether we deserve it or not
. [And, interestingly, the bald eagles I've seen in the wild have never exhibited the screeching and swooping that you see on FOX news title sequences.] I had seen Bald Eagles before, on trips to Montana and Alaska, but had not seen one during my birding year. Once, while driving back from Sugarloaf near the town of Belgrade, I was certain I saw an eagle soar over the tree and directly over my car, but when I stopped and got out, the bird was nowhere to be seen. Hey, I thought, it's a bald eagle, it's probably magical.
It wasn't until September that I finally got a good look. My grandfather, a very well-respected Maine outdoorsman, owns an island on Cobbosseecontee Lake in Manchester, Maine, that is only accessible by boat. My entire family goes up there for special occasions, including labor day weekend. We fish and swim and eat and play music and have a great old time. This labor day, I was fishing in the middle of the lake with my dad, uncle and brother when I saw a pair of Ospreys take off from the pines on the mainland edge of the lake and fly, calling loudly, out into the middle. I looked up to see what the fuss was about and there, outstretched and still in the ski, was a bald eagle. Gorgeous. The Opspreys (dwarfed in comparison) harassed the eagle relentlessly, but the bird, true to all its superlatives, remained steadfast and unflinching in the sky, hardly seeming to notice the other birds.
[Note: I've seen bald eagles several times since this encounter and it's always been interesting to view them as symbols of the USA. This lake bird was flying proudly, not listening to or acknowledging the presence of the other birds, who's nest was on the edge of the lake and who's claim to the lake's fish had probably been long established. Ring any bells? Also, when I visited the Prince William County landfill in December, Bald Eagles were a constant presence. They harassed the gulls and starlings even though these smaller birds were not taking any food or space away from the eagles. Bald Eagles: Ruling with an iron fist over a pile of trash.
Seriously, though, seeing that bird spread wide against the sky, motionless but fully aware what was happening below, it made me proud that the bald eagle was the official symbol of the USA and glad that at least at some point the leaders of this country could make a frigging good decision. [Except Ben Franklin; he wanted the turkey. What an idiot.]