Flurry Over Fledglings!

New discoveries happen when one gets off their “beaten path” and changes their course of travel!  Instead of taking you directly to Surry County, Virginia and its wonderful historical sites, the shrill, high pitch of
the eagles in The Norfolk Botanical Garden (www.norfolkbotanicalgarden.org) announcing the birth/hatching of three eaglets stopped me in my tracks!

Having always been fascinated with American Bald Eagles, our national symbol since 1782, the nature –loving side of my brain catapulted me to investigate this great event.  The eagle has been on the U.S. Endangered Species List since 1967, and was removed from that list on July 28, 2007.  The efforts to increase the population have certainly paid off, but births of these powerful, magnificent birds continue to be protected, thus, this was something really special!
The three eaglets were born respectively on March 21, 22 and 25, 2009.   Guess you wait your turn to pip the shell and hatch yourself into the world!

Now I was a little late to see the actual hatching of the chicks, but got to see more than I could ever dream of on WVEC TV’s Eagle Cam (http://www.wvec.com/cams/eagle.html).  The station has kept an “eagles’ eye”(!) on the entire hatching process from the eggs being laid to the hatching of each chick. That wasn’t enough!  I had to go see the nest, “mom and pop” eagle, and investigate this wonder a bit more.
The beauty of the Norfolk Botanical Gardens added to the thrill of this adventure.  Often called “The Azalea Gardens” by some locals, I could see why!  Beds of glorious azaleas greeted me as I drove into the area. The guides and staff at the front desk couldn’t have been more helpful in directing me to the best venue for viewing.
To fortify my expedition, I first enjoyed a delicious, and beautiful, chicken salad for lunch at the “Garden Café,” owned by “Farm Fresh” (www.farmfreshsupermarkets.com).

Of course, a brief stop in the gift shop was necessary.  I might find something new to learn about, right?  Then off through the Bicentennial Rose Garden, over the rose garden bridge, and onto the NATO Tower I ran to feast my eyes on the majestic view.  Excitement overwhelmed me as I climbed the tower stairs to get a glimpse through the mounted telescope and my binoculars… trying to do all at the same time! I was afraid I’d miss any peep of a chick’s head or flap of a wing. The thrill of seeing nature at its’ best is another one of those “moments in time.”  It’s not everyday one can witness American Bald Eagles making their way into the world.  The huge nest, or aerie, being anywhere from 5 to 9 feet in diameter, is truly an architectural work of art.

Finally, after scouting the nest and surrounding air space, two eaglets appeared on either side of the nest apparently curious about their new home and human squeals of excitement. Guess they heard the paparazzi!  At my visit, the chicks are now 8 weeks old fledglings covered with dark gray feathers and are nearly as large as their parents. They are learning to move with the wind before they fly, table manners-how to tear food in order to eat, practicing walking on their big feet/talons, and constantly growing plumage!  Sadly, I didn’t get to see the parents, who BTW, mate for life and build nests together.  How about that for shared parenting?

Eagles… so many people have used the name due to the resonance of strength, power, might, sense of freedom, i.e. “The Eagle”… the lunar module carrying astronauts Armstrong and Alden to the moon in 1969; “The Eagles” … an American Rock group… “The Eagle”…a silent film starring Rudolph Valentino; and, a poem, “The Eagle: a Fragment” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Go see the “real” eagles, especially before the “teenagers” leave the nest, which is usually 10-13 weeks after hatching, and should be in the early part of June.

Happy soaring!

‘Til Next Time -

(PS Thanks to George Kartis for photographing my adventure!)

Monday Archives

• 3/16/09 - River Birch Animal Farm

• 3/23/09 - Mathews, Virginia

• 3/30/09 - Old Rag Mountain, VA

• 4/13/09 - "Flower Power"

• 4/27/09 - "A Ferry Ride Away"

For more information about the American Bald Eagle, go to www.dgif.virginia.gov or www.baldeagleinfo.com

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