It has been a marvelous week for some of God's greatest and most awe inspiring creations. I've seen many hawks and falcons, several deer, the hummingbirds have apparently left for the winter, and speaking of winter, the first sighting of the sand-hill cranes, heading south in magnificent formation, occurred these past two weeks; a true sign that the seasons are about to change. I have also seen, on three separate occasions, a total of four bald eagles, a rare highlight to a very busy week. So in honor of these sightings, I thought I would re-run on of your favorite messages, "An Eagle of My Eye," which was first posted this past January - I hope you enjoy this reflection.
There is no secret I love animals – they were all named by Adam (of Adam and Eve fame if the reference doesn’t ring a bell) and they are God’s beautiful creation that enables our earth to function as he designed it, so what’s not to love. There is a certain beauty and majesty about these animals. Wouldn’t this be a very dull existence without them. Just look at all the wonderful people, challenged with isolation due to Covid, who flocked to the shelters, pounds, and stores to acquire companions to see them through this sudden change to their lives and the unprecedented “new” way of living.
I’m especially fond of birds and cats and dogs; in alphabetical order. Now, before you who know me go off the deep end, or the rest of you think – “how simple minded can this guy be,” let me qualify this statement 😊. In reverse order, I am most certainly a dog person, as most of you know. In my life there has been: Cockers: Brucey, Mikey, Springers: Pepper I, Pepper II, Doberman: Fury, Labs: Cocoa, Brandy, Dalmatian Dottie, Mut: Smokey, Springer: Elliot (yuk), Husky: Lucky (the most wonderful ever), and Springers: Beedo, Winston (who passed a few months ago,) and Sam who was Winston’s brother. They have all (except Elliot) played a special role in my life personally and in my family’s lives.
Yes, we have had a couple of “domesticated” cats: Simon and Peetey. Although I am most certainly not as “domesticated” cat person, and trust me I don’t disparage people who are cat lovers, I just believe that due to being raised as an only child, I was independent enough, so I didn’t want to compete with a cat vying for their own unique independence, within our family.
You may have noted that I emphasized “domesticated.” This is important because as much as I am not a fan of “domesticated” cats, I absolutely love the wild, “Big” cats. In fact, thanks to family and friends, I have sponsored two Siberian Tigers; Kouza at the Honaker preserve in China and Cash at the Exotic Feline Rescue Center outside Center Pointe, Indiana. If you wish to sponsor a Tiger or Big Cat, I recommend contacting the WWF (World Wildlife Foundation) or the folks at the Exotic Feline Rescue Center. I love the beauty and uniqueness of every “big” cat – the Tigers, leopards, cheetahs, lions and how every cat has different unique markings. They are so beautiful – I think they are most beautiful animals on the earth, but of course I am quite bias in my opinion.
So, what about the birds. Much like the cats, it’s not just all birds, but I have a definite passion and love for the raptors. That’s not to say I don’t love seeing some of the smaller birds like Cardinals, Blue Jays, Finches, Woodpeckers, and Hummingbirds, but there is something about the beauty and keen senses apparent in the raptors. I love to see the hawks and falcons along the roadways, in our beautiful country, and I am absolutely giddy, like a child at Christmas, when I have the fortune to see an eagle. Thank goodness, eagle sightings have become far more prevalent than just a few years ago. In fact, there are half a dozen, or so, eagles that I am so blessed to somewhat routinely see in central Indiana; there are two who live in a very tall tree in front of the Honda plant, along Interstate 74, just outside of Greensburg. I often see a couple at Eagle Creek reservoir while fishing, and I have occasionally seen one at Geist and at Cagles Mill Lake also while fishing, and my family and I occasionally see an eagle around Greenwood, as well. I am, so glad the Benjamin Franklin did not get is way and make the Turkey the national bird of the US - how could it be any other bird than the regal, majestic, powerful, and most beautiful bald eagle!!!
Like the Tiger, I’m not sure there is a more beautiful animal than the Bald Eagle. Thanks to conservation efforts, and after decades of population decline, the Bald Eagle has been removed from Indiana’s endangered species list. According to a recent article in the Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette, Indiana has seen the number of nesting eagles rise from ZERO, in the years 1900-1988 to 600 today (300 pairs). These conservation efforts started in the 1980’s when 73 eaglets were introduced into Indiana as part of a restoration project, with the first successful mating recorded in 1991. Today 84 of Indiana’s 92 counties have eagles nesting within their boundaries. Last year, chick production rose 11% from the previous year. Nationally, the Bald Eagle population has risen from 417 nesting pairs in 1967 to ~9,700 nesting pairs today, covering 48 of the 50 states.
This conservation and restoration effort reminds me of the words from a John Denver song; Rocky Mountain High. In the eighth stanza of the song, Denver wrote and sang these words about himself, or anyone: "I know he'd be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly." The song is more about the beauty of God’s creation and the magnificence of simply taking in the views surrounding all of us, but this lyric is so profoundly true. It’s a shame this song was actually banned by several radio stations at the time of its release in 1972. For more about the story behind this song, click this link: Rocky Mountain High Backstory
Yes, I love seeing Falcons, Hawks, Kestrels, Osprey, Harriers, Owls, and other types of Eagles. But there is something so magical about seeing a Bald Eagle. When I have the fortune to see a Bald Eagle, everything stops – I am in total amazement at the pure unspoiled beauty and majesty. Perhaps it’s my love of this country, or my love of communing with nature, or just my love of animals. I know I would feel the same way about seeing a Tiger in the wild, although I’d be a bit more apprehensive – let’s be honest - I'd be a bit frightened, but certainly in total awe and amazement. Perhaps this is another reason for my excitement seeing a Bald Eagle and that is that I feel no fear, like I would if I saw a Tiger, I am only in awe at the wonder and beauty of the moment.
To John Denver’s beautiful song Rocky Mountain High, all the lyrics are beautiful as was the setting and celestial event that was occurring which prompted the song, and I love that entire mental view the song paints, but the lyric: "I know he'd be a poorer man if he never saw an eagle fly" is so spot-on. Don’t be “poor” in your life, daily tasks, and business – seek out nature and all of its beauty and wonder. For me it’s an Eagle or Tiger that just shouts what a great God we have, to have created such gorgeous animals. But for you it could be another animal, a mountain, a lake, a tree, the ocean, the sweeping plains, the many natural formations and wonders. Maybe while enjoying these magnificent parts of our world, you just might see a Bald Eagle, flying high above you with that beautiful white feathered head and tail, souring majestically without a care in the world, with those eyes scanning thousands of acres, just adding beauty to our lives.
Thank God, I am not that poorer man, as I have seen, and will continue to see, these beautiful creatures, as long as I walk this earth. Thank you, God, for giving me the heart, the vision, the awareness, and the appreciation, to see these magnificent wonders. I hope you all get the opportunity to truly see the many wonders of this world – I am so thankful there is an Eagle in my eye – what beautiful sights are in yours?