Another One!!!

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When I wrote two blog posts a few weeks ago about an eagle family moving into our small town backyard, I thought we had one eagle and one baby/adolescent eagle. But Florida wildlife never fails to produce daily revelations that prove me amateurishly wrong.

As of today, our number of eagles has increased with the arrival of another young eagle. No more schedules or theorizing from me. Just blessed acceptance of the great fortune we have to be in their company.

From August 6:

Maybe I should name him Romeo, the way he sits outside my bedroom window.

Or maybe go cutesy and call him Don or Glenn or Joe after some members of the band.

But the name that keeps coming back to me is Larry Brown. Yes, I have a friend who is an eagle and I’m naming him Larry Brown.
You see, Larry is both nosy and persistent: two qualities that harken back to the original, late great writer Larry Brown.

Larry has been around our neighborhood for a while but only recently have I begun clawing myself awake and out of bed at 6 a.m. to find him looking right back at me.

The first time we saw him perched on the dead branch atop the oak tree in our backyard, my husband and I grabbed the camera and crept outside, hoping to not disturb him. And on that perch he stayed as we giggled about what a great and unusual sight this was until exactly 6:30 and he launched off toward the southwest.

Now we know that’s just Larry’s schedule. I’m not sure what time he arrives but when night starts to fade, he’s there on his branch until his internal alarm clock tells him breakfast is ready somewhere else.

I’ve begun talking to him as I let the dogs into the backyard for their morning routine (no worries, our boys are much too large to be carted off by Larry). I pepper him with questions he has yet to answer: Where is his nest? Does he still have a mate or is he looking for love? Does he call her Sheila Baby as his namesake would? Most importantly what has he learned about us from up there on his perch?

I don’t know where he goes; only that he comes back to us. Every morning at 6 a.m.

From August 21:

“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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Okhakonkonhee

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By Saunro

People can experience history in many different ways: in the love of old treasures, through genealogy searches or simply by engaging in hours of The History Channel or A&E television shows.

As a native Floridian, I find great intrigue surrounding the history of where I live especially since my home has a history that goes back to our prehistoric origins.

I live on Crooked Lake at 122 feet above sea level (awesome for Florida) on what is known as the “ridge” or “backbone” of the state, a geographic feature created by the rise and fall of the sea levels over millions of years which allowed the ocean to squeeze mountain tops in the middle of a peninsula.

According to local history, the lake was originally named Okhakonkonhee, then Crooked Lake, then Caloosa before the shift back to Crooked Lake again.

Happy to say that I don’t live on Okhakonkonhee!

The Florida Seminoles hold a very special interest for me due to my Seminole great-grandmother and Crooked Lake was home to some Seminoles who engaged and traded with locals in the mid-1800s, before they were driven into the Everglades. It’s not hard to imagine just steps from our back door a camp of Seminoles full of people that hunted, fished and swam on Crooked Lake.

After the Seminoles, Northerners discovered Crooked Lake. The early pioneers came to escape the harsh winters, grow citrus, and establish townships. Before long Babson Park and Hillcrest Heights and a women’s college (now coed Webber University) sprung up along the shores of the lake.

As in most of Florida, the railroads, new towns and their businesses came and went. Freezes and hurricanes hampered but never defeated the citrus industry.

The Hillcrest Lodge, which featured the Minnetonka, a seagoing yacht docked at the lodge, came along in the 1920s and was popular with big-name guests including William Jennings Bryan, Bobby Jones and Babe Ruth. A Women’s Club was founded in 1923, and in 1933 residents were treated to a flyover by a Graf Zeppelin.

Today, life at Crooked Lake is quiet. The local wildlife: eagles, fox, sand hill crane, otter, raccoon, and alligators along with an occasional bobcat or panther coexist with the castles and cabins that embrace the lakeshore.

It’s been said that memories are the new history and every day I am happy that there are more of mine being made at history rich Crooked Lake!

Saunro is an independent thinker who refuses to be swayed by commercialism. She is living the good life in retirement at Crooked Lake, and she continues to volunteer as an animal and child advocate.