It started out simply enough.
On a Huron County run for Meals on Wheels last March, Cliff’s supervisor pointed to an eagle’s nest in a towering oak beside a rushing creek. She’d watched families come and go for three years and said another one was on the nest.
That nest was a deep stack of branches wedged at the juncture of three limbs.
I was curious, so we drove out there one Sunday afternoon. Careful to keep our distance, we watched from the front seat, like we grew up doing at drive-in movies. Trees were leafless at that point. The enormous nest was clearly visible.
I’m sure I imagined some grand and glorious moment. An eagle landing on our car’s hood and winking at us. Or zooming overhead in figure 8s in a salute to our interest. But nothing happened.
Still, we kept returning each Sunday with binoculars. We finally saw the top of an eagle’s head. There was no mistaking that white brilliance above the black limbs. By looking online, we learned both parents share duties, but I couldn’t tell which was which.
On another trip, we heard loud chirping. Baby eagles. We saw a parent fly in from the north and vanish into the nest.
One Sunday, Cliff got out of the car to walk our dog. I’d seen nothing until the thump of the closing door. A white head popped up. Through the binoculars, I saw the massive shape rise. His eyes followed their movement, which was fortunately away from the tree. He never blinked until they were back in the car.
He wasn’t taking any chances.
When spring weather arrived, Monroeville’s Twist ‘n Shout: Powered by Ice Cream opened. Lunch was added to the day. Deliciously. If we were better people, Sunday should have been marked by a prayerful church experience, not eagles and ice cream.
On our last visit, she was perched on the limb as we pulled up. Suddenly two blue jays zoomed at her, flapping near her head. She dodged them. They swooped again. She chased them in a wide arc, making her point. She was not having any of it. They chattered and scattered. She flew back to her limb.
A circle-of-life incident must have occurred before we arrived, with the jays having lost someone dear or feeling their own nest threatened by a hunting eagle. Honestly, I can’t imagine why else two small birds would challenge a bald eagle.
It had to be a parent thing on both sides.
I’ve swooped in, too.
At a parent conference when Maggie was in high school, a teacher expressed concern that a bright girl like her didn’t voice her opinions in class. He needed her to jump in aggressively and argue the topics. I let him run on about his disappointment with her until he took a breath.
“Do you come from a big family?” I asked, smiling. He laughed and detailed his rowdy years among five brothers and sisters, elbowing and vying for attention around the dinner table.
“Maggie is an only child,” I said. “With just the three of us at the table, she doesn’t have to battle her way into the conversation. She didn’t grow up shoving, verbally or physically. You expect a skill set she doesn’t have. If you want her to speak up, you’ll need to create a space where she feels encouraged. You’ll need to teach the others the value of listening.”
He said he hadn’t thought of it that way.
I flew back to my limb.