Monday, June 1, 2009


Every year at about this time, the Atlantic Eiders show up with their chicks. It seems to happen suddenly, though that’s not the case. For at least a month, the drakes chase the hens in relentless pursuit. I’ve posted photographs of them engaged in mating displays, stretching their necks while calling a low ah-hoo! Then things calm down. Hundreds of them float in the cove fishing and sleeping and apparently pretty bored with each other. Then one day, at the very end of May, they appear with chicks in tow. The family groups of hens and a couple of drakes escort a crowd of a hundred or more chicks long the rocky shore line to feed. Because they are so vulnerable to predators while on land, the chicks take to the water very quickly. They are balls of down no bigger than the palm of your hand. Once they are in the water, they dive under when predatory birds try to catch them. Sea gulls and Bald eagles like a snack of Eider chick whenever they can get one. It’s a depressing spring event to witness. The numbers of little puff balls quickly dwindles. Like stealth bombers, the eagles cruise across the surface scalping the chicks off the water. With each pass, the mothers frantically huddle the chicks into a circle. Stretching their necks upward and flapping their wings, they squawk miserably. I can always tell when there is a hunting eagle on the water from wherever I am in the yard because of the distress calls of the hens. Gruesome as this is, I have to remind myself that everybody has to eat. An eagle is just being an eagle; it’s not cruel or vicious. May is just a rough month.
May is also the month when there are nine birthdays among my family and friends. This year, I did not recognize any of them. It’s not that I forgot them, either. I remembered some of them, though not on time. I just didn’t think it was that important. Boy, was I wrong. As it turns out, several of my friends were hurt. One of them may not forgive me for it, which would be a shame. We’ve been friends for almost thirty years, but it looks like this may be the end of it. I do feel like a first class jerk for hurting anybody’s feelings. There wasn’t any malice in it; I was just a slob. I have no excuses. I guess accepting this about me is what it takes to be my friend. It’s not something I’m proud of, but that’s the fact of it. Like an eagle, I’ve got my great qualities, but some of me can be pretty hard to take. To expect me to be a different person is probably like expecting an eagle to hunt for a corndog. I guess if the people I love won’t forgive me, then May will have been the roughest month of all.


  1. if forgetting my birthday is the worst thing you could do to me, then we will be friends for life!
    Let's leave the awful things that people can do to us for our families to do!! They do it oh so well.......

  2. I think eagles would eat a corn dog if I threw one off the deck !!

  3. I like the grackle photo... very nice