Banking left, in swoops and glides, He silently settles on the right most branch next to his mate. He’s brought another nest offering, a twig larger than his wingspan, and plops it atop their cloud-height home. She looks at him over her shoulder, with a cockeyed crane of her white neck as if waiting for this one to drop, too. But somehow it stays, wedged at an awkward angle. He stands on it, opens his wings and lifts his beak. Success.
At the base of our front yard pine there are dozens upon dozens of such twigs and sticks from the previous nest attempts. My husband and I have determined that our new yard mates, and national treasures, are most likely newlyweds. Only an ignorant young couple would attempt to make a home mid-windstorm one day and mid-spring snowstorm the next, and not get the hint. Or maybe they are just extremely determined, under a time crunch and she is ready to plop out their next generation.
I’ve googled these creatures, who have made their new abode right above our bedroom window, pooped on our front stoop and rooftop, and dropped rabbit carcasses in our side yard. I have emailed the raptor center at the University of Minnesota in complete concern of the fact that in less than 2 months we will be having a hundred people in our yard for my son’s grad party, and although I know pigeons in Rome have “good-luck” excrement, what about Minnesotan bald eagles? I picture putting a “poop guard” under our front tree — and handing out slickers (blue and gold, of course) to everyone as party favors. But will our guests appreciate the fact that the school’s mascot might bring fresh meat to our BBQ?
I discovered there are laws in place that might keep us from doing anything to scare these lovely creatures from leaving their nest once they settle. So we may not be able to get our storm-damaged fence fixed and our new patio paved before June, or blast our son’s favorite music over the loud speaker for the inevitable dance mob of seniors, if they drop eggs first. Eagles mate for life, live for around 28 years, and return to raise their children every spring after their winter stay in the Mississippi River Valley. These new neighbors of ours, and this Discovery Channel reality show, might out-live my husband and me.
So it’s a love, not-so-much love, relationship.
When I was little, I coveted visits to the Montanan mountains where my mom grew up and vacations in the Tetons with my family. We’d take raft trips down the Yellowstone, peering through binoculars in search of uncommon wildlife. Awestruck, we’d find a rare eagle’s nest in the trees along the river banks and watch the beautiful creatures come and go like ethereal ghosts from the Wild, Wild West. Last summer, my husband and I discovered that the area around our lake had such beauties. They’d circle overhead and dive the water’s surface in the summer and scoop up fish, or duck, like a National Geographic special. It was rumored that for decades an eagle pair and its extended family have nested in the neighborhood north and only occasionally dined on our waterfront.
I blame my husband for changing the natural order of things.
We are a pet-less family, and since we moved into our new home a year and a half ago, he’s been feeding all the squirrels with handfuls of grain and cobs of corn secured on special “squirrel” tree seats so they can eat in style. He has embraced our suburban lake home with the enthusiasm of St. Francis. He also fed the geese kibbutz and the flock of ducks that took over our lawn last summer. So why wouldn’t the eagles relocate to where the buffet was?
I had a talk with them today, He and She. Yes, I realize we will probably have to name them soon. I told them of my concerns over their messiness, and scolded them at their careless nest making. Being a parent, I worry for their offspring. I fantasize faceting a special eagle “bin” and training them to poop and drop their meal remains in something I can discard with our weekly garbage. Yes, I know this is highly unlikely.
My husband just sent me the emailed plans for our new patio, the paver design, the depth of soil to be dug out by diggers. Perhaps the newlyweds will appreciate our attempts at “fancifying”our home, maybe they will stay even when the fence pounding starts, the cement is poured and the fire pit gets delivered. And maybe, their ultimate plan is to hang out with us on summer nights and listen to John Mayer over my son’s bluetooth speaker and watch the fading sunsets.