By Lynda Richardson
I’m sitting at my computer in the not so wee hours of the morning glued to the Richmond Times-Dispatch Eagle Cam hovering over an eagle mom sitting on her nest. I’m right here with 1934 other viewers waiting for the first egg to hatch. Feels like the "Egg" song from the musical 1776:
“We're waiting for the chirp, chirp, chirp
Of an eaglet being born
We're waiting for the chirp, chirp, chirp
On this humid Monday morning ….”
Except we aren’t waiting for the Declaration of Independence to emerge, we’re waiting for the arrival of another young addition to our national emblem’s fraternity – The American Bald Eagle - the first eaglet in the nest of Virginia and James, a resident James River eagle couple just east of Richmond. It’s Eaglemania in the Old Dominion!
First there was the Norfolk Botanical Garden’s’ Eagle Cam provided by WVEC television station, then the Richmond Times-Dispatch, announced it would begin streaming video from a camera above a nest east of Richmond, both WVEC and R T-D working in support of the research conducted by the Center for Conservation Biology at William and Mary and VCU. At the Times-Dispatch’s website, we’ve named them, seen the eagles mate, watched them lay their eggs, weather a snowstorm, and now, we’re waiting for the chick to hatch. “There’s the egg! She’s standing up! Nooope. She just fluffed her feathers and gently snuggled down and engulfed the eggs once again.”
In Norfolk, the eagles are out of the nest at the moment. They just mated last Tuesday, but there’s a flurry of questions going back and forth on the adjacent chat room between CCB personnel and school students.
Back in Richmond, an observer has Tweeted his dilemma; he’s urging the egg to hatch because he’s doesn’t want to miss the chick hatching or the NCAA basketball game. Ah, March Madness.
Captain Mike Ostrander, who conducts Bald Eagle Tours on his 24-foot pontoon boat called Discovery Barge II has taken his passion for the majesty of the eagles to art form by mounting, “The Bald Eagles of the James River Exhibition”, a traveling photo exhibition, highlighting the five pair of resident bald eagles in Jefferson’s Reach, the five-mile stretch of the James River between Deep Bottom Park and the Richmond Yacht Basin. This stretch of the James is called Jefferson’s Reach in honor of Danny Jefferson, a Chickahominy Indian elder who taught Mike and many others about the river in this region, about its resident eagles and other animals, and their relationship to the land and water—how all these elements become one.
The “The Bald Eagles of the James River Exhibition”exhibition features 30 images by 14 photographers and will initially open in the Richmond Camera Gallery at 213 W. Broad Street on Friday, April 6 between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. Twenty percent of all sales of these images will go to support the efforts and research of the Center for Conservation Biology. Says Mike, “The CCB has been instrumental in the comeback of bald eagles on the James River.” And to quote Dr. Bryan Watts, the director of the CCB, "No other place on the continent illustrates the recovery of the bald eagle population from DDT lows better than the James River." The CCB website has a histort of the rebirth of the eagle population.
Andy Thompson, Richmond Times-Dispatch’s outdoor writer, updates his blog on a regular basis, Richmond Outside: with the sightings and activities of the Cooper Island eagles, located upstream from Downtown Richmond.
And yes, in Norfolk, there’s an Eagle Festival at the Botanical Garden, to be held this year on Saturday, May 5, from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Featuring eagle experts, representatives from local, state and federal environmental organizations, as well as well as music, carvings and all sorts of fun educational opportunities, the Festival will also host an Eagle Symposium, May 4th-6th.
This IS exciting stuff. Virginia. Oops, that’s also the name of the eagle I’m watching. She just stood up and showed me her eggs. One has what looks like a hole in it...