"True love stories never have endings." - Richard Bach
This is not an ordinary love story, but one I know you'll see is one of the most true and pure love stories you have ever read.
Long ago, there was a pair of American Bald Eagles. Annually they would fly to our oldest sister's pioneer homestead and nest. Bald Eagles start nesting in January, which is very cold in that region at that time of year, yet the Eagles returned to incubate and hatch their chicks, and teach their fledglings to fly, hunt and become self-reliant, before leaving the region in August for other sources of food. The Bald Eagles are "fishing birds" and will eat carrion as their main source of diet. Though they could easily carry off a chicken, they do not typically go after chickens if there is a ready source of food for them such as fish and dead animals.
The American Bald Eagle, our National symbol, is the largest bird in this country with a white head. They do not reach full maturity until they are four or five years old, and the juveniles are often mistaken for Golden Eagles because the white head does not develop until they are three of four years old. Golden Eagles are larger than the Bald Eagle but of about the same weight which is up to fourteen pounds. Eagles typically have a life span of fifteen to twenty five years, though some in captivity have lived to be at least to their late forties. The Bald Eagle mates for life, though if one partner dies, they will find another mate. The largest concentration of American Bald Eagles is in the Northwest, with Alaska having about half of the entire population. The Bald Eagle has been removed from the endangered species rolls, since the population has increased from a few hundred to nearly ten-thousand over the past thirty or forty years.
The pair of American Bald Eagles that nested and raised their offspring, could be seen warming their bodies with spread wings while perched on the fence posts or power poles in the morning sun. They could be seen soaring through the air, and swooping into the Malheur River to catch the fish going down stream. They could be seen teaching their offspring to fly, then to fish and directed toward food that was laying in fields or near the banks of the river. Both parents take an active part in the teaching process.
On an annual flight to the homestead, the female eagle was wounded in some way, whether from an encounter with another bird of prey or coyote challenging for the same food source, it will be never known, but she was severely injured. The male brought food to her and preened her and tried to nurse her back to health and vigor, but she no longer had the strength to survive and sadly succumbed to her injuries. The male stayed with his lady bird, and cried for her. If you can imagine a long mournful screech, that carried on the winds, you would know the grief and despair the male was suffering. After several days, he eventually left her side. We have no way of knowing if he returned the next mating season with a new lady bird, but we would like to believe that he flew back to their homing grounds to live out his days without her.
There is still a number of the American and Golden Eagles in the area, and they fly in annually; returning for the fishing and to hatch and raise their young and again you will see them warming with spread wings while perched on the fence posts, but never again has their been a pair of them that has nested nearby, nor have their been any close enough to watch as they raise their young. Occasionally a pair can be seen in the elm trees, but they have not nested there. Each year in their annual nesting grounds, you will see them soar to the heavens at high speeds and swoop down toward the water and rise up from the river with a fish in their talons. But for many years now, there has not been a love story as great as the one I've just shared with you.
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