Kleptoparasite

4 July 2010

Surely I must have told this story before: Third grade, being physically educated in greek dodgeball at Santa Margarita elementary school. It’s an early summer scorcher, must be near the end of the school year, teachers are probably just running out the clock with extra PE sessions.

It’s so hot the blacktop is semi-molten. It reeks of tar and sticks to my shoes a bit as I lunge from the incoming projectiles hurled at my head by staggering ten-year-old brutes easily twice my size.

Anyways though I’m mostly not paying attention to the ‘game’ but instead I am watching a loose knot of vultures that gyrates overhead, they are catching the thermals that are rising from the searing pavement.

But then here: there is something different. This vulture has a white head and tail. I’ve never seen one before, but instantly I know what it is. Still, I can’t quite believe it – this seems really special, almost magical. My heart starts pounding and I probably bounce up and down a little bit as I point to the sky and shout:

“Guys! Look! A BALD EAGLE!”

Right on target the dodge ball, un-dodged, connects with the side of my head.

Actually I made that last part up, I think everyone just ignored me. Not that I cared. I was THRILLED.

This is not that eagle of course, but one that we saw at Poore Lake on the east side of the Sierra Nevada on Monday. A bit far away, but unmistakeable. I’ve seen a number of these birds since that first schoolyard sighting but I still can’t help to be a little awestruck each time I see one. It’s in my blood I guess.

They are filthy thieving animals though you know.

5 Responses to “Kleptoparasite”

  1. Jeremy Says:

    I see a cloaked reaper standing on a broom rather than any sort of eagle.

  2. Neil Says:

    mistakable it is then I guess.

  3. ajlec2000 Says:

    When I was young all raptors in the US were in catastrophic decline. I did not expect to ever see a bald eagle. With the outlawing of DDT most of the raptors have recovered.
    Now I live in an area rife with eagles and though I know they are little more then flying rats in their behaviors I breath a sigh of relief everytime I see one.

    • Kele Says:

      A couple weekends ago I was a little north of Duluth, MN and in walking distance to Lake Superior. While I was sitting in the backyard, I saw fast movement behind the trees. Through the spaces between the trees I was able to make out a bald eagle! I had seen them many times at the local raptor center but it was different seeing one in full flight – it seemed so much larger and much more majestic. I know how you feel though as no one else cared! I don’t get that though… Raptors are just so cool. I saw my first wild peregrine a few weeks ago too.


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