Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Wild, Again

We huddled deeper into our thinsulate embedded parkas and bulky snow pants, but the eagles didn't care. They could smell the river, hear the calls of the wild birds from across the river. It was time to leave. One by one, a rehabilitator would step forwared, a bald eagle in their arms. At the apex of the platform, they would pause, allowing the eagle to target on the river. You could see the eagle focus, turn its gaze from the humans, and then ...

 A few hesitated, turned to look into the eyes of their human, but each in turn, took to the river. Free, once more. Someone asked, "aren't you sad to see them go?" "Are you kidding. This is what we work for. This is a celebration." These are remarkable humans.

After the first few birds were released, wild eagles began to fly. The excitement was building across the river. It was as if they wild were welcoming the new arrivals, leading them back to well positioned perches.  

I wanted to know why they were releasing the birds in the winter. The answer stunned me. This is the only time of year that eagles are not territorial. The group together, and tolerate the presence of their kind to survive the winter. But some of the young birds had never been free as adults. How could they survive this insanely cold winter? Simple. At this time of year, adults will teach unrelated birds to hunt. Think about that for a moment. A species, territorial for most of the year, but compassionate enough to save a struggling orphan from painful death. There is a lesson here as there always is when observing nature. I want you to take these words, roll them between your fingers, feel the power in the message of the eagles. Adults helping the young, regardless of relationship, helping each other to survive in brutal times. Then, when you're ready, swallow it whole, let it become part of you. The planet could use more eagles. 
Visit REGI, donate if you can. See their amazing photos. They work with more than eagles. Ninety nine species arrived at their center in 2013, including baby hummingbirds. 

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