Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 07/29/2014

Photo taken on July 20, 2014

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Golden Eagle
Bow Valley Provincial Park
Panasonic DMC-FZ200
Anne Elliott
© All Rights Reserved
W of Calgary
© Anne Elliott 2014
from Coaldale Birds Of Prey Centre
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Aquila
virtually blind
Aquila chrysaetos
head shot
bird of prey

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This majestic Golden Eagle, named Spirit, is virtually blind. He was originally brought to the Coaldale Birds of Prey Centre in February 2007, starving and badly injured. A gun shot pellet went through his eye and was lodged in the back of his head, two more pellets were in his chest. The doctor reckoned that it would be too risky to try and remove them. With such devastating injuries, at the hand of a "human being", Spirit was unable to be returned to the wild, so he has acted ever since as a wonderful Ambassador for his species and for other birds of prey. Though his home is in Coaldale, he travels to various places, patiently educating the public about Golden Eagles.

On 20 July 2014, I plucked up courage to do a drive that I’d never done before - to Bow Valley Provincial Park (at the foot of the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains). I had been that particular route once or twice before that I can think of, when I carpooled with others. A good part of the drive was in familiar territory, but I’d never driven the last part of the journey myself. I had met my youngest daughter at 9:00 a.m. and we were both eager to see a small display of birds of prey that had been brought up from the Coaldale Birds of Prey Centre.

This year, there was no Short-eared Owl or Turkey Vulture, but it was great to see any at all. There was a Burrowing Owl, a Barn Owl, a Great Horned Owl and this beautiful Golden Eagle. Another real treat that was an amusing one, was seeing a baby Barn Owl that was just 45 days old. This little ball of fluff was acting as a great ambassador, letting young kids get a close view and ask questions, and fall in love with it – and to hopefully, in the future, do everything they can as adults to protect our precious wildlife. The enjoyment of seeing these birds up close reminds one that the reason these birds are not free to live in the wild, is because of some kind of interaction with humans – such as permanent injuries from being hit by a vehicle, pesticide use, or even worse, being shot by a human, as in the case of Spirit!

This exhibit was our first destination in the park, though on the drive from Calgary, we had stopped at the small McDougall Church at Morley. After seeing and photographing the birds of prey, we then drove to Middle Lake that’s in a different part of the park. We walked the very short distance to the edge of the lake, but didn't walk around it. From there, we drove to Many Springs Trail and did a very slow walk around the lake, stopping to look at and photograph a few different wildflowers and butterflies. Though slow, it was still further than I should have walked. Certain wildflowers were already finished, including various Orchid species, but there were still plenty of other species to see and enjoy. Even the weather cooperated, though the forecast had been for isolated showers. Not too hot, nice clouds in the sky and lovely to have my daughter’s company for the day.

I always love this story, about a Bald Eagle, not a Golden Eagle, who becomes special friends with a man diagnosed with Cancer:

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