An Exercise in Noticing

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“And tracking the feathered friend that visited her backyard was not only a source of great delight for her, it was also a form of meditation—an exercise in noticing.” From the obituary of Florence Kirven Foy Strang, age 106.

Just a few weeks ago I was theorizing about the private life of the eagle I had become so attached to and named Larry Brown. Well, now we know. Our eagle has a baby.

I’m naming him Billy Ray (or Billie Ray if you prefer).

He is about the same size as Larry but is covered with white down feathers that must itch the way he pulls at them and shakes, leaving them tumbling out into the breeze. Apparently baby eagles grow into their adult size at a rapid pace, begin to fly at 12-13 weeks, and then go through four different plumage stages before growing into their beautiful adult feathers at about age five.

After Larry leaves his perch on the dead tree branch at exactly 6:30 every morning, Billy Ray flies in with a screech and sometimes a thud. Apparently, an eagle learning to fly is similar to a 15-year-old and a freshly laminated learner’s permit. Both involve a lot of screaming.

Why the sudden emergence of this eagle family? It may have something to do with the explosion of backyard chickens in the neighborhood. It seems that eagles love chickens.

It also may be that I have just noticed.

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