A beautiful sight: The American Bald Eagle

Happy New Year everyone.  BD and I are 2 hours into the Twilight Zone Marathon on the SciFi channel, and its doubtful either of us will be up until midnight, but I’m looking forward to 2009 just the same.  I hope everyone has a safe and happy evening!

On our way home from Gainesville today, BD and I stopped at the Myakka River State Park, just East of Sarasota.   This is by far my favorite park that I’ve ever been to in Florida.  Its great features include many walking, biking, and hiking trails, the beautiful Myakka Lake, a birdwalk, and a canopy trail which includes one of those neat “towers” where you climb up into the different levels of the forest canopy.  BD and I rented a canoe to go out on the lake, but the wind was pretty high and I got super freaked out after about a half an hour, so we rowed back into the shore.  The main attraction at the lake are the gators.  On a previous trip with my friend Eleanor, we saw something like 50 gators in an hour.  I guess I let my imagination get the best of me while thinking about 50 gators lurking in the waters as we were canoeing towards the middle of the lake.  Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.  We then went further into the park to the birdwalk, which is basically a boardwalk which extends out into the grassy marsh and provides excellent bird watching opportunities.  Some of the species which we saw today include: Great Blue Heron, Tri-Colored Heron, Great Egret, Roseate Spoonbill, the Glossy Ibis, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Osprey, Sandhill Crane, and a pair of American Bald Eagles.  

I have never seen an American Bald Eagle in the wild before, much less a pair.  The beauty of these birds is really magnificent, they are HUGE and graceful and very intimidating.  Also, the recovery of Bald Eagle populations in the lower 48 states is a fantastic lesson in environmental protection.  As of the mid 1950s, there were only 412 nesting pairs of Bald Eagles.  In 2007, the birds were removed from the Endangered/Threatened list, and there are now several hundred thousand of them.  What happened?  Well, first the birds were protected which meant less direct-kills by humans.  But more importantly, DDT was banned in the early 1970s, finally allowing the bird population to rebound as reproduction became more successful.  People sometimes ask me why I am in favor of “big government.”  My reasons are plentiful, but one of them is definitely that without governmental intervention and regulation, the environment would be at the whim of state governments or even worse, individual corporations and businesses.  In all likelihood, the national bird would have disappeared from mainland US.  

The picture above is grainy and not great, I know…. but I don’t have a zoom on my camera and I couldn’t take a picture through the binoculars, so I had to blow up my shot and crop it.  They were glorious.

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