Saturday, January 26, 2008
WHERE EAGLES SOAR AND DUCKS SLIDE
The bitter cold continues and as a result, the lake features change: the ice expands and open water shrinks. This morning was a busy one for our fine-feathered friends, some just migrating through, while others make their home here.
One of them who calls this their home now, a bald eagle, returned with yet more nesting material. He ever so carefully and gently placed the branch different places, over and over again, until he found the perfect spot, then immediately set out to gather more. It is a slow process to building the gigantic home, just one branch at a time. Did you know that some bald eagle nests can weigh as much as 2000 pounds? It’s hard to believe that a tree like a cottonwood (Populus deltoides, Populus fremontii, Populus nigra) could support that sort of weight, especially when the ground and cars are littered with fallen branches after just a wee bit of wind comes through.
Other birds that are active here today are the migratory birds. I previously mentioned that they circle around until finding a spot to alight on the lake. Well, with the shrinking open water, and the increasing water population, there is less and less water space for birds to land. During certain times of the day and in certain light conditions, it is also likely parts of the lake that are barely frozen over can look like open water. So perhaps it's no surprise to see ducks coming in for a landing, apparently thinking they will glide in the water as they touch down, only to find they are touching down on ice. So instead of a splash-glide, they clunk-slide to a stop. Okay, maybe you had to be there to see it in person, but it reminded me of the cartoons I watched as a kid, and a little chuckle slipped out.
With the small amount of open space, watching the various types of birds navigate around each other is almost like watching the skaters on Rockefeller Skating Rink. Fascinating to watch, the birds all move in a choreographed clockwise dance…
With a pirouette and an arabesque,