For the Birds Radio Program: Spring Walk

Original Air Date: May 16, 1994

Today Laura Erickson tells us to wake up and smell, or at least notice, the birdies. 3:38, may be a rerun. I THINK this is the right script–it happened at the right time (Bunter would have been 11, and early May was right about when it happened)

Audio missing


Two weeks ago, I took a walk with my dog Bunter through some of my favorite stomping grounds in Port Wing. Bunter’s 11 now, so we can’t go on endless hikes like we used to. Walking to the sewage ponds and Twin Falls Park and back to my mother-in-law’s house is just the right length for an older dog.

Usually I tie her to the gate at the sewage ponds while I hike to the far side to check out the slough, the best place for swans. But this time an adult Bald Eagle sat on a tree on one side of the ponds, a pair of Canada Geese sat on the other side, and a second pair of geese were starting a nest on the dike between the ponds.

I stood at the gate awhile, the eagle looking back at me with some interest and perhaps even recognition. Although I have long been a watcher of eagles, there haven’t been many occasions when an eagle has been a watcher of me. Twice at the Lakewood Pumping Station I’ve been pretty sure an eagle I was studying in the sky was looking back, but the only other eagle that has seemed to take a personal interest in me has been this one here at the Port Wing sewage ponds. I’ve seen him on several occasions now, but I’m not sure if he recognizes my binoculars and red hat or if he’s this laid back when anybody comes by. I almost feel like naming him. Of course, that would be as presumptuous as if he suddenly took it upon himself to give me a new name.

We studied one another for several minutes, and then I turned to check out the ducks. The eagle had been watching ducks himself, and eating a few as well, so they were wisely gathered on the far pond, bobbing in the wind-swept water. The male geese kept their necks erect, one eyeing me and the other the eagle as their mates ate soft young plants. All in all, it seemed rude to cross the gate, so I gave one last look to the eagle and nodded my head. Strangely, as if mimicking my movement, he nodded back.

Bunter and I moved on to Twin Falls, hoping for tons of early migrants, but found only a sprinkling of kinglets. Bunter was slowing down and favoring one paw, so it was time to head back down Highway 13.

Now our eagle and a slightly larger female were soaring in the sky, rising on thermals formed on the warm road pavement. The two of them circled and spiraled, lost in the romance of the moment, but the female suddenly noticed me just below and seemed to shy away. The male approached closer, and turned to her as if to show that Bunter and I weren’t dangerous. They resumed their courtship sky-dance, moving higher and higher above, and I’d be watching them still if Bunter hadn’t whined and lifted her paw pitifully. We headed back to the house with a paltry bird list but a satisfying memory.