I was just about to open the gate, my arms full of hay when the bald eagle flew over me. Looking up I turned to see those outstretched wings reaching out only twenty feet or so over my head. In my memory, they are a silhouette against the pale blue sky.
Then the bird glided up its talons grabbing hold of a thin branch on the dying maple tree in the dog yard. The branch bounced up and down as the eagle righted herself, using her wings for balance.
It took her a bit to settle, for the branch to stop shaking under her weight. It was only then that I dropped the hay and climbed over the gate, which is frozen to the ground, into the dog yard.
Bud was already at the base of the maple tree barking at the eagle who paid little attention to him.
I took some pictures of the eagle then and at one point she turned her head and looked right at me. After that I put my iPhone down and just watched as the eagle sat, swiveling her head around and back.
After a while, I went to the house to tell Jon. The eagle was still in the tree when we looked out the back door. Then she lifted off the branch, wings spread wide, and swooped down over Route 22 flying low over the coming cars. I couldn’t help wondering what the people in those cars saw.
We watched as the eagle flew out of sight. Jon got a picture of the eagle flying away, that classic shape, wings outstretched.
Afterward, I thought of how the bald eagle is so easy to tell apart from other large birds because of their markings. And that those markings might have so much to do with our fascination with them, which goes back to ancient times. We have endowed them with such a sense of nobility, I was surprised when I first learned that they are scavengers as much as hunters. As if it were beneath them to do such a thing.
But of course, that was me, putting my human sensibility onto this animal. As if they have to live up to my idea of them. I have become more curious and enlightened about animals in general since I started living with sheep and donkeys.
I am constantly learning to let them be who they are without viewing their behavior through my human prejudices.