There is no escape for weeks
looking down on a small world
beneath a thatch of twigs—
no way to hide from sun, storm
or crow until the leaves come
to wait for shadows out of the blue
heavens with or for a meal—
no guarantees that what they see
is good or bad, just real.
Robbin and I had the luxury of looking at cows and calves in our upper country yesterday when she spotted this Golden Eagles’ nest.
The eagles have displaced the crows
on the power pole, singly claimed
the overlook of rising feed saved back
for weaning calves, to fall from,
flap and glide close to the ground
squirrel towns submerged in green.
Short skirmish, the eagle fell with one
black wing outstretched beyond
its taloned grasp deep into the grass.
I think I understand wild politics,
its guiltless traits, its territories
and borders, our totems changing.
How humbled were we when
the golden birds chose us
to entertain at dawn and dusk,
but beak and claw I never saw,
just two sets of wings lifting off
in opposite directions. High
at the head of Ragle Canyon
in the granite outcrop, she waits
to be relieved to feed herself.
The talons of a Golden Eagle
squeeze a squirrel beneath
the blades of pasture green
not far from the screen door
I close quietly behind me. A second
lands beside the first to begin
the meal. Several shades of bronze
shimmer in mid-day flight
as the first leaves the second
to eat alone—long flap of wings,
sure and purposeful. Sweet partnerships
grow wild, yet sometimes seem more
civilized than what we see among men.
Perhaps the Bird and Animal people
placed devotion, the selfless heart
into the tribe they created—or perhaps
we learned what we now claim
exceptional from birds and animals.
Cultivating a native life,
we pause for totems,
let them tell us
what they think—
who they are.
Some count on us
to stir the grass
and some to listen
when we drink
coffee or wine
Claiming the roost
of loving crow mates,
a Golden Eagle lights
for a closer look at us—
and we are blessed.
Finding his feather
of the wild,
we never forget
and hope to leave
Left for the wind to clear
hard clay, soft remains
of a Red Tail Hawk.
Heron ripped from the sky,
gray feathers hard ground—
an eagle’s trail remains.
Posted in Photographs, Poems 2014, Ranch Journal
Tagged birds, Drought, Dry Creek, Golden Eagle, Great Blue Heron, haiku, photographs, poetry, weather, wildlife
All tracks lead to water on a dry year like this one when good springs and stockwater may be miles apart. Checking the Windmill Spring yesterday, after feeding the cows on the Paregien Ranch, a young adult Golden Eagle I had seen a few weeks ago at the bottom water trough, was back for a bath.
The first time, it had been getting a drink while I spent fifteen minutes or so unplugging a pipe before I noticed it sitting on the edge of the old redwood trough in the oak trees about 150 feet below me. Yesterday, I could see its dark shape from the pickup when I arrived. Like the cattle, the wildlife becomes accustomed to the few humans they see, so I meandered closer snapping photos as I went.
I stopped at about 100 feet and it decided to continue its bath despite my presence.
After splashing and literally rolling in the water for several minutes, it was too wet to fly…
…and ran up the hill beating wings to dry its feathers.
We’ve been watching a young Golden Eagle since the first-calf heifers began calving in September. Everybody’s hungry in a drought and the small Wagyu X calves had to be tempting. Yesterday, it landed in a tree outside the window to watch us. I’ve often thought we were entertainment for eagles.
Click to enlarge.