Here on Mount Desert Island, seeing an eagle is special, but not unusual. Adult eagles are very beautiful and are here throughout the year. Their size is impressive, with a wingspread of 6 to 7 1/2 feet. Eagles are mainly fish eaters. They let other birds, like osprey, catch the fish and then they steal it by making the other bird drop it. Eagles can catch fish on their own, but they prefer letting other birds do the work. Although not elegant, eagles will also be happy with finding and eating dead fish and even roadkill.
I found it interesting to see an eagle joining other birds in dining on a dead seal up on the shore. There were gulls, crows, blue jays and even smaller birds. The eagle was definitely in charge, but the other birds found their places at the feast and nothing was wasted.
When an eagle robs an osprey of its fish, it flies above the osprey and then swoops down on it, which makes the osprey lose its grip! The eagle then grabs the fish and goes off to enjoy eating it and the osprey has to catch another fish. There are some excellent films showing ospreys and eagles catching fish that are well worth watching on your computer. I urge you to look at them. It is no wonder Ben Franklin thought the wild turkey would have been a better national emblem than the bald eagle.
The bald eagle was adopted as our national emblem in 1782. The sprig of olives in the eagle’s right talon indicates the peaceful disposition of our republic and the bundle of arrows clutched in its left talon proclaims our ability to defend our specific ideals.
Bald eagles mate for life. They are very likely to return to the same nest each year so that the nest becomes huge and quite impressive. One nest was recorded being 20 feet deep, 9 1/2 feet wide and placed 40 feet off the ground. Look at their nest with binoculars. Give them their privacy!
Days of foggy and misty weather do not do much for the human spirit, but such days are just what lichens need to become full and beautiful. I really love the green, wispy usnea lichen hanging on the branches in our island’s woods. It makes one think of the Spanish moss in our Southern states.
The parula warblers coming to MDI for nesting use lichen material when weaving their nests. A friend in Southwest Harbor found such a nest in her yard in her old apple trees and it was exquisite to see.
Shadbush comes into bloom in May and our local roads become beautiful with their white blossoms. This fruit tree is also called serviceberry and wild pear.
When the petals start to fall off at the end of blooming, it almost seems like it’s snowing again.
Lady slippers are not to be missed. This lovely flower is also called moccasin flower. If you find them blooming somewhere, listen to the pouchlike blossom and see if perhaps there is a bumblebee inside trying to find its way OUT! This sometimes happens. Deer love to eat the fat pouchlike flowers. Most of the blossoms are pink, but you may find an albino blossom.
The list of flowers coming into bloom now is long and keeps getting longer. Don’t miss a walk in the woods, fields or along the shore. Take your camera, painting supplies, notebook or a friend and go out for a walk.
I still prefer a good flower identification book. There are many of these available. I can’t help but mention my latest book on seashore plants and animals, “Living on the Edge,” co-authored with Thomas Vining. It’s available in local bookstores and at libraries or you can get autographed copies from me. This book will be a wonderful help as you walk the shoreline of MDI.
Send any observations, questions or photos to [email protected].