Today I am learning from the Eagle. This is appropriate since I have always been a bird watcher and even raised birds for several years. Eagles, in particular, have always fascinated me – especially the Bald Eagle. Did you know there are over a hundred species of eagles? But because our National Emblem has been the Bald Eagle since 1782, it has had more “face time” in the classroom. It is no longer on the endangered list since June of last year.
Every state in our Union has eagles except Hawaii, so people are constantly reporting “eagle sightings”. The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is a member of the sea and fish eagle group, and once it mates, it mates for life! That’s right: no hanky panky in the bald eagle world!
Mama Eagle lays from one to three eggs and the pair share the 35 days of incubation. (No deadbeat fathers here!) The nesting cycle is about 20 weeks.
The female bald eagle is 35 to 37 inches, slightly larger than the male, and has a wingspan of 72 to 90 inches. She flies at altitudes of 10,000 feet, and during level flight, she can achieve speeds of about 30 to 35 mph. She weighs only 10-14 lbs, and her bones are light because they’re hollow. She is known for exceptional eyesight at far distances.
The most fascinating fact, I think, is that the eagle has the ability to adjust her body out of joint in order the ride the storm. Wow! What a lesson we humans can take away from that!
The eagle waits for a draft and rides it – no struggle, no wing-flapping! It’s sort of an “atmosphere of grace” similar to the Christian who “waits upon the Lord” and has less wing-flapping, less struggle. The eagle is definitely a “storm rider”!
As mothers go, the bald eagle is the best metaphor for human parenting and parenting by Father God that I can think of. Since the outside of the nest is made with sharp materials to withstand invasion from intruders, she and her mate lined the inside with fur from their prey. They made a big old feather bed!
When the time comes for those little ones to leave the nest and start fending for themselves – some where around 4 years of age — Mama Eagle starts pulling the soft material out of the nest to make it uncomfortable for them. Seems mean, but it is necessary to motivate the babies.
Then Mama Eagle starts pushing the babies towards the edge of the nest, ignoring their screams. As the babies flap their wings, they are strengthening them without knowing it. Eventually, she pushes them out of the nest, one by one. As each eaglet free-falls, screaming and squawking, Mama Eagle flies under him, spreading her massive 90-inch wingspan, and catches him before he hits ground.
Mama Eagle’s eyes are never off of her baby! She swoops up her baby and takes him back to that nest she and Daddy Eagle built out of touch from intruders. He’s safe for the time being. But tomorrow he’ll get another flight lesson from Mama Eagle. And finally, one day, he’ll figure out he can fly on his own! (Probably when there’s no more fur inside that thorn nest!)
God seems to parent me the same way. There are times when He allows this wounded child to feel safe in His feather bed. Then He knows it’s time for me to be forced out of my comfort zone. But always, His eye is on me and His protective wings are under me.
I actually felt Him lift me up on wings of eagles at my mother’s funeral after she had been killed. It was a visceral feeling, not just a spiritual one, and I floated through the day with total peace. So I know (experientially) the truth of this scripture.
They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
(c) 2009 April Lorier
Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” I have an obligation to God. I am twice His. First, I am His because of creation, and secondly, I am His because of redemption through Jesus Christ. He made me and He bought me.
Supplied by and reprinted with permission of April Lorier
More of April’s Articles
Eagles and The Atmosphere of Grace
April Lorier’s Christian Nature