Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Face to face with an adult bald eagle

It's a trip being practically face to face with an adult bald eagle.

Which is where I was Wednesday at Wildlife, Inc., the non-profit rescue and rehab on Bradenton Beach nobly run by Ed and Gail Straight for the past 25 years.

The eagle was a female at least 5 years old, who was brought to the clinic Saturday night from East Manatee, suffering from a chest wound of unknown origin.

The majestic bird hardly blinked as we gazed through the open door of the portable kennel housing her.

The eagle puffed up her feathers a bit when colleague Grant Jefferies got up close while taking pictures, but overall she was as poised as could be.

Regal, indeed.

"She could go right at you if she wanted," Gail Straight said.

Every other time I've seen this American icon has been from a distance --- atop the concrete pillar of a street light along US 301. Or perched on the limb of a dead tree in a marsh east of Myakka City. Or with other bald eagles gathered on a high tension tower at a hyrdoelectric damn on the Susquehanna River west of Havre de Grace, Md.

And that's with the benefit of binoculars.

Not Wednesday.

It was an experience, one that heightened my respect for the bald eagle.

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