Sunday, October 05, 2008

Challenger the Bald Eagle Plus Dusk Bunny and Doorstep Dove Wait Out the Hawk

Photograph courtesy of
Bald Eagle Challenger does his stuff during an Arlington funeral.
From eagle nest photographer John Steffen Jr.--

"Read the narrative before viewing. This is an awesome music video...featuring a special free-flying Bald Eagle named 'Challenger' (in honor of the lost space shuttle crew) cared for by the non-profit American Eagle Foundation (AEF). He's an accidentally 'human socialized' bird as he was raised by the people who rescued him - after being blown from a wild Louisiana nest in a storm as a baby in the late 1980s.

Declared 'non-releasable' by federal and state wildlife authorities, he was trained by the AEF to perform educational free-flight demonstrations at high profile public events. He's the first Bald Eagle in U.S. history that learned to free-fly into stadiums, arenas and ballrooms during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.

The celebrity eagle has appeared at numerous major sporting the World Series, Pro-Bowl, All-Star game, BCS National Championship, Fiesta Bowl and Men's Final Four, etc. Challenger has also flown before 4 U.S. Presidents! His life story is told in a children's storybook titled 'Challenger, America 's Favorite Eagle."

YouTube - Amazing Free-Flying Bald Eagle "Challenger" (AEF)
Turn on your speakers and click on link above.

It was beginning to get dark and I walked into the kitchen and was about to turn on the light when I looked out the glass door. Dusk Bunny and Doorstep were both frozen in place on the patio.

Ah ha! The Cooper's must be out there. Slowly, very slowly, I back out of view. I don't want to flush either prey animal into giving their position away. I slowly creep to the window, and pull the curtain just a touch to the side and peer up into the trees. Nothing. Drat! The hawk must be on the roof of the house or over at the neighbor's yard. I could try going out the front door. I stand and continue to peer, mulling that one over ,when sure enough, the Cooper's Hawk glides through the backyard possibly from the roof, continues on into the park, and keeps going.

I go and check on Dusk Bunny and Doorstep. Both have disappeared from the patio.

But there she is on the bath. Doorstep is sitting in her favorite sunset spot. Look carefully at this photo and you can see why she has such grand peripheral vision. See her eye on the right? There is only one small area directly behind her head that isn't covered by her peripheral vision.

She notices me and we bob our heads at each other. The light is dim so I can't figure out whether his head is covered with pin feathers or it's wet. It has been raining but when I left New York most of the city's pigeons were going through their molt and were suffering from pin feather head.

On second thought, I think her head is wet. It's chilly and her eyelids have begin to droop. Very soon she will leave the warmth held by the bath and settle into her roost for the night.

Donegal Browne

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