During the pandemic, I, along with many others, have picked up birding as a way to stay active and explore nature. I have always loved hiking, biking, and exploring the outdoors but birding is different. When hiking, I walk with purpose plodding towards my chosen destination paying no particular attention to my surroundings. When birding, the natural world comes more into focus. You hear a robin chirping in a tree, see meadow grasses swaying in the breeze, and feel the cool air rushing over your face. In an almost meditative way, you connect with the landscape because to see birds you need to move slowly and with patience.
So, on this early January morning, before heading into the office, I decided to grab my binoculars and camera to start the day on a positive note. I birded around the Humana Grand Allee in Beckley Creek Park looking for nothing in particular but enjoying the orange hues of sunrise and the quiet in the park. I spotted a robin here, a sparrow there, even a great blue heron stalking prey in the wetlands. After about thirty minutes, I decided to head back to the PNC Achievement Center to begin my workday.
That’s when I saw it. Flapping its wings leisurely and cruising over the donor fountain was the unmistakable white head of a bald eagle.
Eagles are frequent visitors to The Parklands, especially during winter months as Floyds Fork provides great trout fishing. I followed the eagle and watched it land high in a tree on the banks of Floyds Fork across from the overlook off the Louisville Loop.
Amazed at my luck I stood on the bank for ten minutes or so just watching this amazing bird and appreciating the experience. As I readied myself to leave, movement caught my eye. Another bald eagle flew over my head and perched itself right next to the one I had been watching. Talk about luck! A double eagle! (Sorry I’m a golfer and couldn’t resist the golfy pun)
It is hard to determine if these two eagles are the same sex or if it is a male/female pair. One of the only defining characteristics between sexes is the size with females being 1-5 pounds larger than males. Based on these pictures, it seems the two eagles are similar in size leading me to believe they are two of the same sex.
Eagles will often congregate in good feeding sites over the winter months taking advantage of things like stocked trout in Floyds Fork. However, it is possible this is a breeding pair. We will need to keep our eyes peeled throughout The Parklands this winter for evidence of nesting. Eagles build stick nests roughly the size of bathtubs so they should be hard to miss!
Want to learn more about birding and get started with this incredible hobby? Tune into our Facebook Live series Virtual Park Roots at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, January 11 as I cover birding 101. I hope to see you all out in the park, and here’s to a Happy New Year of birding!