There are so many things we may enjoy in every season. For my husband and me, the special treat we look forward to this time of the year is eagle watching.
January, February and March are the most prime times for eagle-spotting in this area. David and I see eagles almost every day, and every time we are just as excited as if it was the first one we had ever seen.
They have began building their nests. Look close as they begin nesting, and you will usually see one in the nest and one nearby watching to protect. Later, you begin to see the baby eaglets peeking their heads out.
The babies that are hatched and raised here in the spring will tend to come back again, as do their parents. A few will stay here year round.
There has been a big increase in population over the last 20 years or more here in Central Missouri. Back when David and I were first married, it was very rare to see one of these magnificent birds. In fact, I don't recall seeing them at all when I was a child.
We have had people ask, "Where can I see an eagle? I've never seen one."
I wonder if maybe they have, and didn't really take notice of what it was. We see them in town, and we see them in the country.
On one of our road trips, we saw seven eagles just before we crossed the bridge at Hermann. I did get pictures, although rushed because of the road traffic. And there are no such thing as back roads anymore.
We have a little joke about the road traffic.
I always tell people, "If you have car trouble, don't worry about getting help. Just take out your camera and they will arrive."
Watch the sky and if you see a large soaring bird, look closely and you may see the unmistakable identifying signs of a white head and white tail as he makes his turns. After you clue in to them, you will easily spot them from a long distance in the trees or in the sky. However, the immature bird will be harder to identify. We watch the tree line silhouette as we drive and frequently see one that way. The white head and tail will show up a long way off. Many times we will see two in one tree.
Eagles like to live and build their nests near the creeks, rivers and lakes where they can find food easily. Here in our area, the eagles may also be seen watching fields for rabbits and squirrels. Road kill, like deer, is a big draw.
A few years back, we were on a ride near Loose Creek, east of Jefferson City. We just happened upon a once-in-a- lifetime event. Near a cattle farm, we spotted hundreds of eagles! The trees were full; big bales of hay had eagles sitting on them — and they were flying everywhere. I was like a child in a candy store! I didn't know how to capture it all. I keep hoping to find another scene like that and calmly take pictures or movies. However, I suspect that wasn't good news for the farmer.
David and I have found many eagle nests. Again, I guess it takes eye training to be able to spot them. Our friend, Barbara, jokingly said, "You must have an eagle eye."
Once you have seen and identified one, you will be able to see them and know what it is without question. We take rides looking for them, making sure not to disturb them, and have located more than 30 nests in the last couple years. We have several located in different areas, and the eagles will most likely use them again and again, so we keep an eye on them.
You may see a squirrel nest from afar and wonder. If in doubt, take out your binoculars and look. The eagle nests are huge and made with sticks that are too big for anything else to have handled. They must have good supporting tree limbs.
Our son, Randy, who is Callaway County commissioner, frequently drives checking out the roads in the evening and sees the eagles and has found nests as well.
Eric, our youngest son and a truck driver for Lowe's, gets the opportunity to see them regularly while out on deliveries. He also spots nests as he travels.
Time moves fast, and it doesn't seem like that long ago when our grandson, Ethan, was small and enjoyed eagle hunting with us. I have a picture of his grandpa holding him while he pointed out an eagle, flying along the bluffs near Rhineland. He has turned 22 now and has moved on to other things, mainly work.
His grandpa and I are still eagle watching and snapping pictures. I still get a kick out of people stopping us in the store and asking, "Aren't you the eagle lady?" Will we ever stop being fascinated over seeing an eagle? I sure hope not.