Sunday, February 20, 2011
"Bad, Bad Butchies!" Juvenile Bald Eagles Mixing It Up
Yesterday, I took these photos of these juvenile, Bald eagles - the Butchie Boys beating each other up in the air. They've been around here quite a bit lately. I have seen them engage this way several times. I'm hoping that eventually, they'll mix it up close enough for me to get better shots than this. But, in the mean time, these will have to do. When I've seen them in mid-air haggling, there hasn't been any food involved. Young eagles practice for later food fights and courtships with these talon to talon displays. Whatever their purpose, it's impressive to see. I'm sure I heard one of them scream at the other, "get on your own side of the sky or I'm tellin' Mom!"
My husband and I both come from families of five children. When I asked him if he had lots of fights with his brothers he said he didn't remember fighting with them much at all. An exception was a big brawl in which a brother fell onto an antique table of their mother's, smashing it. With their sister, they joined forces to repair the table, as best as a bunch of kids could, before their parents got home. That was before the advent of synthetic glues. The glue was a block of some kind of animal product that required heating on the stove top to liquefy it. Heat changed the glue from a peanut brittle, without the peanuts substance to the consistency of honey. It had to be applied quickly before it cooled and hardened again. Though it stunk up the entire house and the kids' repair job lacked finesse, their parents never said a word. Like my husband and his siblings, I don't remember fighting with my sisters much, either. We were also often in collusion with one another.
When my sisters and I came home from school, we were frequently alone until one of our parents came home from work. The idea of "latchkey kids" hadn't been invented, yet. A certain amount of responsibility and self reliance was expected of us. We made snacks and occupied ourselves until someone showed up. But, sometimes we got into trouble.
My mother had a canary named Freep. My father had swapped one of his Siberian husky puppies for the bird. Otherwise, it was an extravagance that we could not have afforded. It's a wonder that the bird survived too, because we lived in drafty, poorly heated houses. Canaries are known to drop dead in those conditions.
Freep was a touch of refinement and class in my mother's otherwise grim life; she loved that bird, too. The onomatopoeic Freep returned my mother's love with ardent song. He was especially inspired by the radio. When the Herman's Hermits sang, so did Freep. He was guaranteed to throw his head back and belt it out to "Henry The Eighth" and "Mrs. Brown, You've Got A Lovely Daughter." Though he was a tough, little bird, Freep had his flaws. For one thing, he was an uninteresting, olive green color, not the classic, lemony yellow most associated with canaries. That's probably why my father, not known for his good trades, was able to acquire the bird. Freep also liked to get out of his cage.
One afternoon, my sister and I arrived home from school and made up some chocolate milk. We rarely had milk in our house and less so, chocolate. Hooking that treat already put us on thin ice, so we did our best to hide all the evidence of our crime. To hurry up with it, we gulped the chocolate milk. Sharing back and forth the one straw we could find, somehow, my sister sucked chocolate milk up her nose. She choked and chocolate milk spewed from her nose. Her bug-eye gasping got us both laughing so hard we fell onto the floor together, knocking over one of the glasses of milk in the process. Our roaring hilarity startled Freep, who busted open his cage door then flew to safety atop a curtain rod. We suddenly sobered up.
We tried over and over to capture the bird. Each time we got close to him he'd fly off to another perch. We were getting really desperate, knowing our parents would come home at any minute, there was still chocolate milk all over the place and precious Freep remained on the loose. Trying to get up high enough, we tipped over some furniture too, adding to the mayhem. Then, I had an idea.
I had read in school that birds could be caught by sprinkling salt on their tails. Salt shaker in hand, I chased the bird all around the house. I got close a couple of times, but not close enough. It seemed like it was working, because the bird was slowing down, but I still couldn't catch him. My sister figured that if salt worked, then pepper would, too. Repeatedly, she ran after the bird from one direction while I went from another, both of us shaking salt and pepper at him as fast as we could. I slipped on chocolate milk on one of my attacks and fell, taking a lamp with me. Then, I almost got him! He turned and pecked at me, startling me into retreat. Now, he had done it! No more Mister Nice Guy! I put down the salt shaker and got a mitten to protect my hand. Freep was now freaked and tired. Gauntletted with salt shaker weapon in hand, he was no longer any match for me. Climbing onto the back of the sofa I reached tippy toed for him with my mittened hand and voila! I got him. Or so I thought. Freep took off leaving me with a mitten full of tail feathers. "Uh oh," I mumbled.
There was nothing to do but try to clean up, though it was impossible to get every speck of pepper from every crack and surface. Chocolate milk makes a very good adhesive once dried. "You just had to get pepper didn't you! If we'd stuck to salt this wouldn't be so bad," I complained to my sister. She rebutted with the lamp, which had separated from its shade and was still rolling on the floor. We realized that we were pretty even in the fault and blame columns, so put our combined efforts into damage control. While busy with that, unobserved by us the bald butted Freep snuck back into his cage.
When my parents got home, my sister and I were angelically engrossed in our homework studies. Neither of them said a word about the aftermath of the obvious, major fracas and it was days before Freep would sing, either.