I nearly dismissed them as Canada Geese.
I was backing the car up the driveway when I saw a wavy line of birds coming over the neighborhood. I glanced up and then went back to concentrating on not driving into the neighbor's yard. But a rattle call floated down to me, and both of my feet slammed down on the brakes. And I shouted out loud, to no one, "Holy sh*t! Sandhill Cranes!!!"
Sandhill Cranes. Over OUR house.
Around thirty of them slowly peddled overhead, as I held the camera in one hand and clutched my chest with the other. Sandhill Cranes as a yard bird. Never would have thought.
Another flock came by a few minutes later, so I grabbed Geoff off his chair to show him.
While waiting for the schoolbus, yet another flock. More than 100 cranes in about 20 minutes.
I talked to myself a lot yesterday afternoon.
Another day, another bird:
I read that a Bald Eagle was seen near the "gravel pits", (click here to read about me finding a baldie in the same place a few years ago...and there are a few funny kid stories in that post, too) about 10 minutes from the house, so that was my target bird today.
Delivered. With a bow and sparkles.
Usually when I would look for an eagle on this stretch of road, it would involve driving down the road past the gravel pit, turning around and driving back. Over and over.
But today, as soon as I started down the road, a large dark bird materialized in a tree immediately.
And I started talking to myself immediately.
"Well, hello there, Bald EAGLE!"
I thought that I would also find plenty of birders there, too. But I had the bird to myself.
Which made me cry.
And I walked as I cried, closer and closer, keeping my profile to the bird, pretending that I wasn't looking at him.
I realized how far I had walked, so I stopped and looked up at the eagle. I was about fifty feet away.
And he was staring right into my eyes.
I forgot all about not staring at him, (raptors don't like to be stared at) and just froze in my tracks. I looked into those icy white eyes for what seemed like forever, until HE broke eye contact and went back to watching the American Coots panic down on the lake.
And a few minutes later, he began to preen. Birds don't preen unless they are relaxed.
It is mind-blowing to me when a bird (or any wild animal) is so utterly unconcerned with a human being so close.
So I cried a little more. It's okay if you want to call me a sissy-pants. I had a bald eagle all to myself in beautiful sunshine today. *sticks tongue out*
I came home, and dragged myself to the laundry room to figure out how many piles I would have to move to be able to enter the room.
The laundry room faces what we call "The Waiting Tree", a knarly tree that is a favorite perch for all of the raptors who visit the yard.
And there sat a red-shouldered hawk.
This is a different bird than the one doing the orange lollipop thing a few days ago. That one had a very dark face...this one was gray in the cheeks.
And banded. Maybe the one featured up in my header?
(If you click on the photo and view the large size, you can just make out the band on its right leg. And some blood on the talons. Sweeeeet.)