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Where Eagles Dare

Felicitous fanfare for our feathered friends

May 2023

by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Columnist

It’s May — the month when there are more birds in Virginia than at any other time. They suddenly seem to be swooping and darting everywhere. They are finding mates, I guess. And building nests.

I love to discover a bird’s nest somewhere around my yard or porches. I watch them carefully. I look for their lovely eggs. It’s something that brings me hope. And, I need plenty of hope right now, although the reason shall remain my own.

About two weeks ago, I had the best bird experience of my life … so far, anyway. I was driving to take my walk on the wooded road. (Around these parts, you really must drive before you can walk.) As I glanced over at the golf course, there it was: A bald eagle! Sitting majestically in the middle of a fairway, surveying its domain. I slowed. I nearly drove off the road. It was an eagle!

I have never seen an eagle in person, except for one that was in captivity at the Wildlife Center of Virginia in Waynesboro.

But, this eagle was no one’s captive. Instead, it was captivating. I wanted to pull over and just gaze at it, but I didn’t want to draw attention to the magnificent bird. Last year, some low-life shot and killed two bald eagles up near Bolar. It was an outrage. Bird lovers offered up to $4,000 as a reward for information leading to the perpetrators. Nothing came of it. I decided then and there that if I ever did see an eagle, I’d keep its whereabouts to myself.

Since more than one golf course exists around here, no one knows exactly where I saw this great bird. I thought about him, or her, throughout my walk. I watched the sky and the fields, in case the eagle had taken flight and “followed” me to my walking lane.

I investigated, and a friend told me there are two nesting pairs of eagles at a location that doesn’t surprise me. I won’t tell you where that is, either. Also, one pair has three eaglets in their nest. My lack of information will help ensure there is hope for these bald eagles. I can attest, nothing gives me more hope than sighting a bald eagle.

I keep my eyes peeled every day for an eagle — in the tops of trees, by running streams, in the middle of a fairway. I haven’t seen one again, but just knowing they’re there, somewhere, gives me a thrill.

In the meantime, I will keep a close watch on the azalea bushes right off my front porch. The robins seem to like it as a homesite. And, I will be careful when I go out on the back porch to the garbage can. For some reason, a bird I can’t properly identify likes to build a mud-based nest in the corner over the can, but she can be very territorial. I have been dive-bombed many times through the years.

And, by the way, if you’re a fan of wildlife, and want a wonderful day trip, head to the Wildlife Center of Virginia near Waynesboro. You will be amazed at the great work the dedicated workers and volunteers are doing with all sorts of wildlife. (Don’t expect them to let you see the bear cubs, though. They’re off limits, no matter how much you beg.) But, I did see some unusual things, including a wayward gyrfalcon, the largest of the falcons, usually found much further north than Virginia. I even got to pet a possum. Call or check their website (wildlifecenter.org) first, to make sure they’re open and welcoming wildlife-loving guests.

To order a copy of Margo’s “A Party of One,” call 540-468-2147 Mon-Wed., 9-5, or email [email protected].