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Animals I Have Known #6

Thunderbirds

by Dan Hartman
July 28, 2011

Over the past year Iíve made mention of a golden eagle aerie. Weíve been watching it since 2007 and every spring I wait anxiously for her to appear at the nest.

I first discovered the nest site while I was traveling to Cody one April to pick up a chain for my saw. I was paying particular attention to the cliff edges I passed, hoping for a glimpse of a cat. Bobcat or mountain lion, I would gladly take either. A series of small caves appeared to my left. I glanced up at the opening as I drove by. No cats, but I did notice sticks protruding out of one of the higher caves. Interesting. I continued on to Cody and got what I needed. When I approached the caves on my way home, I parked and grabbed binoculars. To my amazement the cave holding the sticks had a golden head peaking over the edge! And eagle! Usually Golden eagle nests are hard to approach. When your within 2-3 hundred yards its not uncommon to flush the adult off the nest. Here I was under 1 hundred yards away. I moved then, not wanting to bother her.

Every week or so I would find an excuse to run to Cody and check on the aerie. Finally, I noticed she was o longer snuggled down tightly into the nest. The next time through I could make out 2 downy white heads. All spring we observed the eagle family. Sometimes we would be lucky enough to be present at feeding time. This was rare because we rarely stayed for more than 20 minutes. Reason for the short stays? We didnít want to put undue stress on the nest and didnít want to bring attention to the site. As luck would have it, we happened by on fledging day. Then as summer moved to fall we would often spot them soaring above the peaks surrounding the aerie. Once we even happened upon two of the eagles feeding on a fallen bull elk.

Now as this yearís chick has just fledged, I look back on the many memories my family and I have had visiting the aerie. I will share some of these memories with you through photos.

Photos

View slide show

Golden Eagle Nest Site

Cliffs That Contain The Nest

Leaving The Nest

Ariving With Food

Cleaning Out The Nest

Maturing Chick

Close To Fledging

Feeding On An Elk Carcass

Soaring Pass The Cliffs




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