Survival Tale

In 1978, US law declared the bald eagle a protected species and the results have been phenomenal. Between 1963 and 2006, the number of nesting pairs increased from 417 to 9,000. These magnificent birds live from twenty to thirty years and tend to mate for life. Their nests can be from seven to ten feet wide, ten feet deep, and weigh as much as two tons.

Winters are an important season for eagles. They must consume enough food and expend as little energy as possible to maintain their body heat. January brings scores of eagles to Iowa for winter nesting. When our children were young, if the weather was good, we’d take a January Saturday and travel to the quad cities area. We’d drive along the Mississippi in hopes of spying eagles soaring above their nesting areas. Bird watchers were indeed fortunate if they could spy an eagle through their binoculars, legs extended with talons ready to land upon a winter bared tree.

snow drifts impede path
human footsteps nowhere seen –
eagle’s glory reigns  

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, where today Frank is hosting. He asks us to write a haibun that is somehow related to eagles. Factual information in the first paragraph of my haibun is gleaned from a pamphlet by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Haibun: two to three paragraphs of prose followed by a haiku. The haiku must be traditional in terms of including a seasonal reference.

21 thoughts on “Survival Tale

  1. K.Hartless February 1, 2021 / 5:46 pm

    The snowy prints of the eagle, what a wonderful haiku. Leaves a lasting impression.


  2. Glenn A. Buttkus February 1, 2021 / 5:47 pm

    Here in the Pac NW, we have eagles in abundance. My VA office was on the shore of American Lake. We had a nesting pair in a majestic fir next to the building. We watched them for 20 years


  3. Ron. February 1, 2021 / 5:53 pm

    Thanks for all the info, Lillian. I knew their nests were massive in area, but never though about the weight


  4. rothpoetry February 1, 2021 / 6:08 pm

    Beautiful post Lillian. I find the eagle to be a glorious creature as your haibun states!


  5. msjadeli February 1, 2021 / 6:28 pm

    Your haibun highlights the truth of what humans can choose to do in connection with wildlife. If they can do it with eagles they can do it with all critters! How do we get leaders to understand?


  6. calmkate February 1, 2021 / 6:42 pm

    an informative tribute to one of the greats!


  7. Beverly Crawford February 1, 2021 / 6:52 pm

    I envy Glenn his ringside seat. Fortunately we have a growing colony of eagles in my area now, and it’s not unusual to see one in flight. They are so magnificent.


  8. Frank J. Tassone February 1, 2021 / 6:59 pm

    You bring back memories of when I wrote one-page reports of animals, including the bald eagle. your prose also reminded me of Iona Island, a retired military installation-turned–Bald Eagle sanctuary. When I was younger, my scout troop went on campouts there. I still remember seeing the Eagles soar above there. Wonderful write, lillian! Thank you!


  9. Nancy Jahnke February 1, 2021 / 7:05 pm

    I’ve learned a great deal about these glorious symbols of America! Thank you! N

    Sent from my iPhone



  10. Truedessa February 1, 2021 / 8:07 pm

    The bald eagles are seen here year round. I find it interesting that many have not seen one. They really are amazing to watch in flight.


  11. -Eugenia February 1, 2021 / 9:12 pm

    Superb piece and a wonderful tribute to this powerful bird.


  12. Kenji February 1, 2021 / 9:13 pm

    This post was easy to understand even for me. It was interesting to learn a lot about the bald eagles, in particular the size and weight of their nests. Never imagined they were so heavy.


  13. Ingrid February 2, 2021 / 2:38 am

    There’s a message of hope in the swell of eagle numbers in the US. If we work together to protect endangered species, we can make a difference. Two tons, wow! I wouldn’t want to fall prey to one of these giants, but I’d love to see one in the wild.


  14. kim881 February 2, 2021 / 3:21 am

    I’m so glad the eagle is a protected species in the US, Lill, and that the numbers of nesting pairs have increased. It is indeed a magnificent bird. I knew that eagles usually mate for life but didn’t know how huge and heavy their nests are, or that they nest in Iowa in January – I’ve learnt something new today! I love the haiku.


  15. Ken / rivrvlogr February 2, 2021 / 3:01 pm

    I’ve seen eagles while kayaking. I plan to drive to a spot this week that recently reported as many as 40 eagles on an exposed shoal of the Missouri River.


  16. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) February 2, 2021 / 4:02 pm

    I think another reason for the increase is the same as for the white-tailed eagle of Europe (I think they are closely related) and that is the removal of PCB which hit especially these birds hard. In Sweden we had to feed them during winter for many years because their natural prey was filled with poison.


  17. As a waterfowl hunter in the lowlands adjacent the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, I was able to witness bald eagles ‘up close and personal’. It seemed to me that they migrate southward following the migrating ducks and geese. From the vantage-point of our hunting blinds, we have watched them fly within five to ten yards of us ostensibly inspecting our decoy set-up for live activity. I have personally witnessed, at least ten times, an eagle ‘appear from nowhere’ and catch a crippled duck or goose on the glide before it hit the ground. It was a daily routine to watch five to ten eagles sitting in the trees within one to two hundred yards from our blind. noise from a shotgun seemed not to bother them at all. They are a magnificent bird, indeed.


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