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December 29, 2013

NOW HEAR THIS: Soaring with the eagles

By LARRY M. JONES

The eagle, of which there are dozens of species throughout the world, is probably the most majestic and revered of all our avian creatures. Although not always our friend, the eagle is predominantly viewed as a symbol of strength and power – the master of its world. As such, it has been used as a national symbol by many countries on their coats of arms or flags throughout recorded history.

The fledgling United States adopted the bald eagle as our national symbol, despite the objections of Benjamin Franklin. He referred to the eagle as being of bad moral character, lazy and cowardly that will flee from smaller birds. He preferred the turkey, a grand indigenous American bird, who “would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on.”

Obviously, others did not share Ben’s opinion.

Comparing eagles and turkeys, I am reminded of the old saying I have heard, particularly while flying in the Navy, “It’s hard to soar with the eagles, when you work with a bunch of turkeys.”  

In the aviation world over the past century, the term eagle has become synonymous with flying, aviators and aircraft. Many things are named after the great bird. Perhaps, the most famous reference to the eagle was originally used by Neil Armstrong when the first manmade craft (the “Eagle”) landed on the moon.  He announced, “Houston, the Eagle has landed.”

I was reminded of the great bald eagle last week as I watched the local news. A gentleman from Rowlett investigated his barking dogs in his back yard, and discovered an injured and malnourished male bald eagle on the ground, unable to fly. A lady from the Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, along with a game warden, came and captured the bird and has begun treatment. The beautiful mature male eagle had a badly infected eye, which made it next to impossible to hunt and capture prey. Its keen eyesight is paramount to its hunting ability. They plan to release the bird to the wild upon rehabilitation, probably in the vicinity of Lake Ray Roberts.

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