Some readers may be aware that bald eagles have made a big come-back in population in the U.S. In 1963, there were 148 breeding pairs in the lower 48 states. In 2007, there were 11,000 pairs and the bird was removed from the endangered species list.
The eagle is considered a success story of the Endangered Species Act, signed into law in 1973 by President Richard Nixon. Thanks to this law and work of conservationists, our national bird, which preys on both the living and the dead, is alive and well. I can testify to that.
A bit over a week ago I was walking around Green Lake (a lake and park within Seattle) when I heard some people say, “It’s got a fish!” I looked up and about 75 feet ahead of me there was an eagle flying low over the lake, across the sidewalk and up into the trees. It was carrying something big. Bigger, it seemed to me, than any fish that live in the lake.
I walked up to where it had flown into the trees, and a couple bystanders were pointing into a fir tree. The eagle was about half-way up the tree, but back in the branches so you couldn’t see what it held. A small crowd of people gathered to look at the bird. Maybe it was all the humans standing there that made the eagle decide to drop what it was carrying and fly away.
Something big fell through the branches and plopped to the ground very close to where a boy was standing. Good thing he didn’t get beaned. It was a very dead duck, or some similar bird. The eagle could have carried away a live duck or a dead duck, since, as I mentioned, they are carrion-eaters.
There are lots of sitting ducks in that lake, and few unlucky ones will feel the talons of the raptor. The eagle has returned.