It is so interesting to me that on Veterans’ Day, it just so happened that the essay I was to transfer into my upcoming book, was this one — a tale of two quarreling eagles in the fight for their lives. I couldn’t help but consider the state of our country, and the numerous parallels. Humans typically believe their address, and their events in space-time are unique, but any student of history can find relevant historical events that tend to repeat in current times. The evolution of our species should be one in which we rise above the hatred and demonization of others. But will it be? I just don’t know. But in the case of the two eagles, take a read about a time when people came together for our national symbol.
Yesterday two eagles fell from the sky near my house in Orlando, FL. They were locked in a territorial fight and fell into a drain where they remained stuck for hours. During this time, experts arrived while a crowd gathered to watch the attempted rescue.
Bald eagles have an amazing wingspan that is wider than a human is tall. They build the largest nests of any bird and can live between 20–30 years. Not only are they our National symbol, but they are exceptionally sacred to the indigenous peoples of our country.
Formerly nearly hunted to extinction, they are another wildlife conservation success story, thanks to the banning of DDT and to the implementation of the Endangered Species Act. When these two fell out of the sky yesterday, it was heart-wrenching. It pained me to see them immobilized in an unintentional, man-made, concrete, and steel trap.
But a remarkable, moving thing happened. As the crowd gathered, you noticed tears streaming down the faces of strangers. People bonded in their concern for the eagles.
After a few hours, one of the eagles detached and flew away while the other fell down the rabbit hole, deeper into the storm drain. You could have watched this entire spectacle unfolding live, across the nation, and if you did, you were likely in anticipation. It took great care, cooperation, and expertise to lift this magnificent animal from the storm drain. The rescued eagle was taken to a place I’m so fond of called the Audubon Birds of Prey Center. They rescue and rehabilitate injured raptors, and when possible release them back into the wild.
As the eagle was being lifted from the drain, you could palpate the apprehension in the crowd. Would there be significant damage? Could they actually help the bird out without causing further trauma? Or would the bird fall so deep into the drain that they would have no chance?
They saved the eagle.
As it emerged to visibility, being pulled slowly from the depths, the crowd cheered, clapped, and cried tears of joy. It was remarkable to witness so many people caring about another animal, and it warmed my heart and gave me hope for more positive outcomes in our continual striving to promote awareness and conservation of our natural places and wildlife.
Institutions like the Birds of Prey Center do amazing work caring for animals and educating the public with regard to the ecological importance of them. Raptors who cannot be released due to permanent injuries that would preclude their survival, call the Audubon Birds of Prey Center home and when I stand in their presence I am in awe. And, I’m humbled.
Although I am so sorry for the injury to the bird, I have such gratitude for people who care enough to act on their behalf. From the people who stood in obvious concern, demonstrating emotion at the plight of the eagles, to the expert who embraced the eagle and prepped her for transport to rehab, I am thankful.
Whether you watched from miles away, whether you are a citizen scientist who regularly assists with raptor reporting, whether you are a first responder, or whether you just cared enough to read the tale, I thank you. And I hope you go away with some appreciation for this magnificent animal and the great work that care givers and conservationists do around the world.
Elie Wolf Wildlife Conservation Art & Photography
Wildlife conservation artist & photographer using visuals to bring animals into the hearts of people.