How many times did we say that to each other that first year? (We who were such novices to the nesting pattern of Eagles.)
And then she would hop from the nest and onto a supporting branch, out to the very, very end, where she would stretch to get very best view around the dog-leg of our lake. And she would commence to squawking, screeching with such ferocity that eventually he would appear, flying low but in no real hurry, and she would lift off at the sight of him and leave that nest unattended. Leaving him no choice but to do his part.
Eventually we spotted the fuzz of a baby eaglet head just above the rim of the nest. We rejoiced, feeling as if our concern had somehow helped this family along, had helped bring this miraculous baby into the world.
And then there were two. Two baby eaglets in the nest.
We spent many weeks that Spring with our eyes trained on that pine, watching every move. The parents fished and fed the babies, then fished and fed them again. Those eaglets ate and ate and ate, growing larger—fast. Within six or seven weeks they had become fully grown, equal in size to their parents (bigger? maybe?) and were inching farther and farther out on edges of the branches. Any day now, one was going to fly.
It was a thought that filled us with both excitement and fear—somewhere I’d read that 40 percent of baby eagles don’t survive their first flight. And that one eaglet—no doubt the older brother—was such a daredevil! Always doing things that caused his sister (?), typically tucked safely down in the nest, to fret. Still she couldn’t take her eyes off him.
Nor could we.
And so we watched, and waited.