March 25 • 09:13 PM

Uplifting sight

Pair of bald eagles land near area home

Two bald eagles land almost simultaneously in huge poplar tree near Norm Rowe’s Bowers Road home on Thursday.

March 25, 2009
IMLAY AREA — The visage of two eagles soaring in the pale blue sky was literally a sight for sore eyes to Norm Rowe.

The 47-year-old laid off manufacturing engineer had been studying for his classes in business management at Mott Community College on Thursday afternoon, and he needed a break.

A lifelong nature lover, Norm stepped out onto his deck to breathe deep and enjoy a little sunshine. What he got was so much more: The sight of two eagles, wings outstretched, apparently scouting the Mill Creek—or Elk Lake Creek—which runs through the front yard of his Bowers Road home.

"It was like a spiritual experience, like a gift from heaven," Rowe says.

Other metaphors to describe the sight were easy to come by for the outdoor enthusiast who looked up when he heard the eagles' very distinctive call.

Close-up of bald eagle spotted in Imlay area.
"It was like catching a 22-and-a-half-inch bass for the first time," Rowe grins. "Like the first time you see a big buck in the woods as a boy and you just freeze."

And that's exactly what he did. Rowe stood still for a while — he didn't want to spook the pair of eagles, who'd landed in the limbs of a 70-80 foot poplar tree adjacent to Rowe's home.

After a few minutes, he went inside and grabbed his video and still camera.

Rowe managed to capture the birds through the sprawling branches of the huge poplar, and took note of other activity in the trees.

"The red-tailed hawks weren't too happy," he says. "They dove at the eagle, and I was surprised by that. Maybe they're even a little territorial."

While videotaping and shooting still photos, Rowe inched his way closer to the birds to try to get some better shots. In all, he got to view them for about eight minutes before they flew away.

"It was fantastic," Rowe says of watching the huge birds fly. "You could see the white head and the white tail. The wing span was six-foot-plus—just huge. It dominated the air."

Sighting the two birds in the area was a first for Rowe, who enjoys wild nature at cottages in Traverse City and the Thumb. He says he almost couldn't believe his eyes—but the bright white head and tail couldn't be mistaken. He's hopeful that they'll be a more common sight, bolstered by the fact that he saw a pair.

"I almost feel that they're out looking for a nesting area," he says. "It is the early spring when they start looking."

According to naturalist Mike Champagne, director of Seven Ponds Nature Center, there is potential habitat in the area and statewide eagle numbers are on the rise.

Champagne says sightings were reported in western Lapeer County twice last June and they've heard reports of eagles nesting by the Holloway Reservoir on the Flint River.

Castle Creek
03 - 25 - 19
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