Saturday, January 04, 2003

I'm listening to an early-morning country radio show on a station called "Clear 99" from Boonville / Columbia, Missouri, the heart of Little Dixie. So far they've already played "You're the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly" and "When the Squirrel Went Berserk in the First Uprighteous Church". Also, down at the Lake of the Ozarks, they're having "Eagle Days". Eagles flock to the lower Midwest in winter; we've been to the same thing at the wetlands wildlife refuge north of St. Joseph. They've got a ranger out there explaining all about eagles, and they've got at least one tame eagle (found as a fledgeling, grew up around humans, can't be released), or anyway they did last time I went. They've got a platform up with high-powered binoculars, and you can check out the huge birds close-up. They're tremendous and there are hundreds of them. Another place you can almost always see eagles in winter is downstream from the Massachussetts Street bridge over the Kansas River in Lawrence. The water's turgid there and is apparently warmer, which seems to attract raptors. Also, they have tame, or should I say caged raptors at the Deanna Rose Children's Farm in Overland Park, a Kansas City suburb. These are all birds that flew into power lines or got hit by cars or got shot or something and are missing eyes or limbs, so they can't be released. The most enormous eagle I've ever seen, though, was at a mountain pass in the Maestrazgo, in Aragon. Remei and I got out of the car at this sign that said, "Yoquesécomosellama Pass, Niflores meters altitude" for a stretch, and suddenly this huge bird took off right under our feet. Only about fifty meters away from the road there was this enormous cliff and the eagle just soared off it and into the air over the valley. I swear its wingspread was eight feet. It was golden-brown and the sun glanced off it as it glided down and across.

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