This past weekend I was able to see an American icon! It wasn’t at the Superbowl or on the streets of Los Angeles, but at a frozen and snow-covered Big Bear Lake I saw the famous bald eagle.
The San Bernadino Mountains were perfect that weekend. I was there for a retreat and the snow had built up perfectly. In the early mornings, you could hear the sounds of the ice cracking on the lake and as the day went on little miniature streams broke open in the ice on the lake and flocks of geese and ducks could be seen far off in the distance paddling around in the frigid water. These birds have amazing insulation and feathers which help to keep them warm and allow the water to roll right off their backs. When I stepped outside to get a closer look, I went downward up to my knees suddenly finding myself in three feet of snow!
It was February but it was still a winter wonderland. Icicles clung to the sides of the cabin and the whole place seemed fresh and smelled clean. During the retreat, I reconnected with an old friend who told me that he had actually become a birder! He had spent a couple days with my family several summers ago and had caught the birding bug. We swapped stories and observations for a long time and aside from the ducks on the lake didn’t have many expectations for other bird sightings.
While preparing a hot compress for one of the overly-enthusiastic sledders, we saw a shadow flicker across the snow. It was the dark shadow of some large raptor so we rushed to the window to see what it was. The bird had flown quickly toward the lake and we caught a glimpse of large dark wings. Everyone rushed to the second-floor balcony to get a better look. Not only was it a raptor but the historic icon of the United States graced us with his presence.
Just in our backyard a small population of Bald Eagles live and thrive! And we had seen one of these few birds. We watched it fly from one area on the lake to another and people who had never cared about birds were asking questions and trying to replicate bird calls. It was incredible to see how beautiful a first hand experience with a majestic animal could be and how inspiring it could be to people who had been uninterested and bored only moments earlier when we had been swapping birding stories. Just getting outside and seeing nature can help us to appreciate it better and to be better stewards of the environment. And the bald eagle itself is an emblem of this truth. A little over 48 years ago it had been on the brink of extinction, but now thanks to many conservation efforts these incredible birds have begun to reclaim old territories. Sharing our nature
experiences is one of the best ways to foster love, respect and responsibility for the nature around us. And it can also result in some incredibly creative bird calls, my personal favorite being “God Bless America.” Nothing like a loud attempt at the national anthem to summon a bald eagle to you. . . Happy birding and nature exploring!
Check out some more info about Bald Eagles Below: