This is Sarge, a five year old female American Bald Eagle. But unlike in the song, or how I pictured her here, she’s not free. Quite the opposite. Sarge can’t fly, and now lives at the Narrows Environmental Education Center in McGough Nature Park. But let me start from beginning.
This long weekend I suddenly found myself without plans. Our smallest granddaughter woke up with a viral infection and sky-high fever when her family was supposed to drive this way on Saturday.
So yesterday I decided to hike in McGough Nature Park, a jungle-like small park bordering to intracoastal waters south of us. Huge oak trees mix with tall pines, palms and mangroves providing a peaceful spot of wilderness in the middle of the hubbub of this crowded beach weekend.
This park is a safe haven for hundreds of turtles, so I started my hike at the turtle pond. Some turtles were enjoying the sun on the ‘resort deck’ in the middle of the pond.
While others preferred to lounge solo on the land or in the water. I thought many of them had beautiful colors. And observing their slow pace of life was calming to the soul. They had no hurry to do anything or to go anywhere. A lesson on “just being”.
In the open areas of the park, lots of wild flowers were blooming.
But around the forested trails sunlight reached the ground only at a few spots.
I could hear an Osprey calling and many birds singing, but it was impossible to spot them high up in the dense forest. I walked towards the intracoastal hoping to find some birds.
I walked along the long pier over the water and spotted a pelican just taking off. But all wading birds were hiding from the heat in the dense mangrove forest.
I stood there in the welcome breeze for a while and observed the busy boat traffic, a sign of families having fun on the water this long weekend.
It had become cloudy and I hurried back through the park to visit the raptors who had their permanent home at the Education Center.
Sarge is a newcomer to the park. She was found weak, dehydrated and malnourished in Tennessee a couple of years ago.
After a long rehabilitation at the World Bird Sanctuary near St. Louis, she was deemed non-releasable. She has an irreversible and rare feather disorder. Her feathers are brittle and can break easily. Her molting, unlike for other birds, happens all on one side. That makes balanced flight impossible. Thus she cannot take care of herself in the wild.
Sarge is a beautiful, big bird of about 11 pounds. She came here only in May and is still getting used to her new home. But now she is safe and well cared for, and gets to go on outings in the park once she’s familiarized herself with the new environment.
I found her fascinating. She looked at me, the only visor at the time, and we talked for a while.
Next to her, some Great-horned Owls had their little home. I thought one of them looked at me a bit suspiciously from the corner of his eye.
And then there were several hawks, all with different injuries that made life in the wild not an option for them. I thought this Red-shouldered Hawk girl was most beautiful.I stayed with these wonderful raptors until a few fat rain drops started falling and I had to head back home. It was a great hike. I hope you enjoyed it too.
Happy Independence Day to all friends in the US!