Nelson: The eagles

Jerry Nelson

By Jerry Nelson
Special to the Farm Forum

We had some unexpected, super-famous visitors at our farmhouse recently.

We’re talking about a pair of faces that are instantly recognizable. I hate to brag, but it’s an undisputable fact that the couple who came calling at our humble abode are known all around the globe.

They arrived at our farmstead silently and unannounced. We only became aware of their presence after our dog, Sandy, began to bark at them.

My wife and I peered out the window and there, mere feet from our front door, was one of the world’s most renowned power couples! I hope no one accuses me of being overly obsequious, but they were utterly regal and thoroughly unflappable. I immediately sensed that we were in the presence of royalty.

And what was our reaction? Sadly, like so many commoners who found themselves in a similar situation, our first instinct was to reach for a camera.

Quietly, slowly, we nudged open our front door and began snapping away. We didn’t even mutter so much as a “how do you do?” to our august visitors. It took them approximately a nanosecond to perceive the baseness of our motives. Without a word, our distinguished guests took their leave, departing our farm without nary a backward glance. Not that we could blame them, seeing as how we had behaved like a pair of drooling groupies.

“Wow!” exclaimed my wife as our visitors disappeared into the distance, “They’re much more impressive up close and in real life.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, “Reality has nothing on what you see on a quarter or a even dollar bill.”

And that’s how things went down when, for a few precious moments, a pair of bald eagles roosted on a branch of the cottonwood tree next to our house.

After the majestic raptors flapped away, my wife asked, “Did you see how humungous those birds were?”

“Yeah,” I replied. “That’s why we drive a beefy American car and not some weenie little import.”

“That’s not what I mean. I’m worried about Sparkles.”

Sparkles is our resident barn cat, except for when it’s cold or wet or dark outside. Then she gets to be a housecat.

My wife had a point regarding Sparkles. One rainy evening shortly after she came to live with us, Sparkles appeared at our front door, yowling pitifully. She was soaked and had a bloody gash on her back. Her left front leg was also injured.

We took the poor kitty into our house and dried her off. Over the next few days, she slowly recovered. Within a week she was using her injured paw, but refused to leave the refuge of the basement.

One pleasant summer evening, I scooped up Sparkles and took her outside with me so that we could sit on the deck and enjoy the sunset. Sparkles bristled like a porcupine. She was tense as a tightrope and wouldn’t leave my lap. She constantly scanned the heavens with an expression on her face that seemed to say, “Holy crap, did you see that?!”

My wife argued that this was proof that Sparkles had been swept up by an eagle and had avoided becoming Kitty McNuggets only after winning a heroic midair battle.

I said that it was just as possible that Sparkles’ injuries were due to a fall from a tree. She attained some awfully lofty heights during her arboreal hunting expeditions.

“Besides,” I told my wife, “Eagles aren’t the only suspects. We also have red-tailed hawks, horned owls, Cooper’s hawks, turkey vultures, kestrels…”

My wife replied worriedly, “You’re not helping!”

Once the eagles departed, we didn’t expect to see them again. After all, they are the undisputed emperors of the sky; they can go anywhere and do anything that they darn well please. That’s why it was so surprising to glimpse them again a few days later.

My wife and I were driving down a lonesome country highway when two sets of gigantic wings lifted off from beside the road. We stopped to see what had attracted the eagles’ attention and espied the carcass of a doe.

“Omigosh!” exclaimed my wife, “Did the eagles kill that deer?”

“Nope,” I said pointing at a set of skid marks. “The doe tried to occupy the same space as a moving car. It didn’t work out very well for her.”

As we drove away, I said, “I just realized that those eagles were scavenging. That would be like seeing George Clooney eating out of a dumpster.”

But my wife’s mind was stuck elsewhere.

“I bet if Sparkles had been there, she would have fought them off and saved that poor deer!”

If you’d like to contact Jerry Nelson to do some public speaking, or just to register your comments, you can email him at [email protected] His book, “Dear County Agent Guy,” is available at and at booksellers everywhere.