|Photo: Robert OToole. Words: F LoBuono|
Even though it was frightfully cold, the day was beautiful. The sky was crystal clear and a gentle turquoise hue. The brilliant sunshine was reflecting off the ice flows that were clogging the river making them appear as huge, floating diamonds. As I drove north, I was able to relax a bit and enjoy the glorious scenery. I was approaching 125th St. when suddenly, off to the left, above the river, some movement in the sky caught my eye. It was a large bird and she was soaring. I got a good look at her and broke into a big smile. It was a Bald Eagle!! They are unmistakable with a huge wing span, dark brown feathers, and a bright white head. She circled high over an ice flow before gently gliding down onto it. To my surprise she joined another bald eagle who was roosting there. They must have been a mating pair - eagles are known to couple for life. At 60 m.p.h. it was not possible to linger, but I saw them clearly enough to know that they were eagles.
Thanks to conservation efforts, the bald eagle, which had been so close to extinction, has made a remarkable comeback, particularly on the Hudson River. The magnificent, shear cliffs of the Palisades and abundant supply of fish make an ideal habitat for these raptors. Virtually non-existent a few years ago, they are now frequently sighted, particularly on the northern reaches of the river. However, I have never seen them this far south before. It must mean that their recovery has been successful enough for them to expand their territories. Competition among the birds is driving them to find new hunting and nesting grounds. And, they have - right in the middle of one the busiest cities on earth. Remarkable.
The bald eagle is a fitting symbol for America in so many ways. It is a large animal, wild, and free - much like the land it represents. And, its recovery from near extinction represents the American can do spirit. When it seemed that we might lose the very symbol of our Country, every effort was made to insure that wouldn't happen. It didn't. And, we are the better off for it.