After the sermon, I asked everyone in the congregation to write down which image of God as mother spoke to you the most. Overwhelmingly, you chose the image of a mother eagle. So I thought I would post here some info on eagles. When Biblical writers used the image of a mother eagle, what do you suppose they saw in eagle's that made them think of God?
- Fidelity - Once paired, bald eagles remain together until one dies.
- Bald eagles lay from one to three eggs.
- The 35 days of incubation duties are shared by both male and female.
- Nesting cycle - about 20 weeks
- Today, there are an estimated 9,789 breeding pairs of bald eagles.
- The 35 days of incubation duties are shared by both male and female, but it is the female who spends most of her time on the nest. Trading places on the nest can be a tense time. The brooding parent may have to call for relief, or may be reluctant to leave and have to be pushed off the eggs or young. During incubation, the male bald eagle regularly brings green sprigs of conifer branches to the nest. Why he does this, no one knows, but it could be for deodorizing the nest or possibly providing shade for the eaglets.
During incubation, 98% of the time one parent remains on the nest; not only to keep the eggs warm but to protect them from squirrels, ravens, and gulls which will break open and eat the eggs. If the adults leave the nest unattended too long, it can be consequential for the eggs. Diverse weather conditions could impact the temperature of the eggs; leaving the eggs nonviable.
- Human disturbance can have an impact on the bald eagle, as most of them need some privacy and quiet to breed. People wanting to observe or photograph the eagles can disturb them enough to cause them to abandon a nest. Use binoculars and spotting scopes for viewing, and keep at a reasonable distance.
- Once the eggs begin to hatch, the female's vigilance becomes nearly constant. The male provides the majority of the food needed by his rapidly growing family. Eventually the female will take up her share of the hunting, but in the early days, all of her attention is given to the young eaglets in the nest.
- Eagles feed their young by shredding pieces of meat from their prey with their beaks. The female gently coaxes her tiny chick to take a morsel of meat from her beak. She will offer food again and again, eating rejected morsels herself, and then tearing off another piece for the eaglet.
The.....EAGLET WAS now alone in the nest.
Each time a parent came flying in to toward the nest he called for food eagerly; but over and over again, it came with empty feet, and the eaglet grew thinner. He pulled meat scraps from the old dry-up carcasses lying around the nest. he watched a sluggish carrion beetle, picked it up gingerly, and ate it. His first kill.
Days passed, and as he lost body fat be became quicker in his movements and paddled ever more lightly when the wind blew, scarcely touching the nest edge; from time to time he was airborne for a moment or two.
Parents often flew past and sometimes fed him. Beating his wings and teetering on the edge of the nest, he screamed for food whenever one flew by. And a parent often flew past just out of reach, carrying delectable meals: a half-grown jack rabbit or a plump rat raided from a dump. Although he was hungry almost all the time, he was becoming more playful as he lost his baby fat; sometimes, when no parent bird was in sight, he pounced ferociously on a scrap of prairie dog skin or on old bits of dried bone.
The male eaglet stayed by himself for the most part. He was no longer brooded at night. Hunger and the cold mountain nights were having their effect, not only on his body but on his disposition. A late frost hit the valley, and a night wind ruffled his feathers and chilled his body. When the sunlight reached the eyrie's (the brood in a nest of a bird of prey) edge, he sought its warmth; and soon, again, he was bounding in the wind, now light and firm-muscled.
A parent flew by, downwind, dangling a young marmot in its feet. The eaglet almost lost his balance in his eagerness for food. Then the parent swung by again, closer, upwind, and riding the updraft by the eyrie, as though daring him to fly. Lifted light by the wind, he was airborne, flying--or more gliding--for the first time in his life. He sailed across the valley to make a scrambling, almost tumbling landing on a bare knoll. As he turned to get his bearings the parent dropped the young marmot nearby. Half running, half flying he pounced on it, mantled, and ate his fill.