Raptor Rapture

In the year that she was born, something happened to her.  Something that would keep her tied to the earth for all her life; that would keep her wings, spanning nearly seven feet – folded, helpless – forever wrapped around her body.

Ten years ago she was born in Minnesota, where she was hit by a car…carelessly crossing a road; possibly flying too low, in front of a driver too foolish to stop in awe – too preoccupied to gasp at what Nature hath wrought.  She was found two weeks after the accident, dragging her injured wing in the dust, but with gold eyes still searching the sky, as if waiting for her injury to unleash her, so she could fly back to her home in the blue atmosphere.

The complex crush of bones in her wing and shoulder was treated at The Raptor Center of the Universitiy of Minnesota, where her kind was welcome.  After three years of rehabilitation, experts realized that she would never again fly well enough to live in her cold forests, to search for rivers running silver and scarlet with salmon, to raise her family on the tops of mountainous trees – looking down on wild acreages thrumming with life. 

So when those three years had passed, she traveled West, to be received by the Institute of Wildlife Studies, in the balmy arms of Santa Catalina Island.  That is where I saw her earlier this month.

We had stopped in front of a large enclosure of paneled wood, with the aviary itself like a curtain of meshed steel.  Through a single window I was able to see her:  frowning, statuesque, still – save for a predatory tilt of her head, as if she were still looking for something edible and scurrying through the brush.

Her name is Pimu.  "Pimu" was the name given to Santa Catalina Island by the Gabrieleno/Tongva tribe – aboriginal inhabitants of the island.  She is a bald eagle – its majestic gem:  glittering, noble and rare.  Pimu is now being trained to accompany Institute biologists whenever they visit school and civic groups – so that they might train their audience to respect the closeness and wonder of the natural world.

But when I saw her that day I thought of so many other things:  the Presidential Seal, the Maltese Falcon, the dollar bill…all flat, stagnant symbols suddenly come to lofty life.

Her head was held so high – with a dark crease of feathers over her eyes, making her resemble a feathered fury.  She saw above us.  She saw beyond us.  There was danger in the hook of her beak; in the tearing potential of her talons.

And there was magnificence through and through.

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18 responses to “Raptor Rapture

  1. One of my few distinct memories of my childhood/teen years is of seeing bald eagles flying in the wild, not far from us. I think it was on the Snake river, but can't be sure. It was AMAZING.

  2. Awesome and awe inspiring, to the extent they are different.

  3. What an awesome boid! She's so pretty!

  4. Oh wow. Your words held me in thrall. Bald eagles do that, too. I'm weeping for the power that is held captive in Pimu.

  5. A poignant story told well. My heart aches for Pimu.

  6. A beautiful animal and a beautiful story. Thank you!

  7. well told!I am familiar with the Raptor Center in MN and they do wonderful work.

  8. Beautiful, both the bird and the blog.

  9. Pimu, Pimu. So beautiful and hard to miss while driving one would think. But alas. Even the safety of our symbol of freedom means little to a hurried idiot. We have them here but don't see them often. We took the dogs to the river for a walk one day and I yelled to Kevin, "That vulture got it's head caught in a white plastic bag". His response, "That's a bald Eagle you #@*@". I didn't have my specs on. But now we look for them. I have an urn full of fallen vulture feathers and hope that I may find one of an Eagle to be the center of my feathered tribute. There are hundreds of vultures that sit on the power poles and fly down to eat the fish that wash up on shore. Lovely Aubrey. I am always glad when you take us with you on your excursions.

  10. Damn, Aubrey. Your writing is a magnificent as she is. I just cried my way through that post.

  11. oh wow she's gorgeous!

  12. I wanted to cry when you wrote of her injuries. But, with relief I see that she will have a good and potentially very educational life for very many people!Blessings on Pimu. And you for sharing her with us!

  13. Such a wonderful post, and Such a wonderful blog. Thank You!

  14. Thank you for sharing Pimu with us.

  15. Hello there!I love reading your posts. You paint such vivid pictures and I am always captured by the story…Look at how magnificent she is in that photo. Wow!There is an eagle with a similar story in the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown PA. ( I think her name is Liberty? ) When you look at her, you can SEE the regal look in her eyes, and in the way she carries herself. Even though she is forever grounded, her heart is very high up in the sky and very far away from the cage that both protects her and forever holds her captive.Thanks for sharing this story & pic with us, Aubrey.&:o)

  16. I somehow missed this a week ago when you posted it, Aubrey. It's wonderful that there are places these birds can go and not have to be put down.

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