Date: 2/20/21 6:33 am
From: Rob Blye <rwblye...>
Subject: SKY DANCE
I lifted most of this passage from Tom Lake, Consulting Naturalist for the
NY DEC. It is the best description of eagle *sky dance* behavior I have
ever read. Carol and I witnessed this spectacle several times over our
little farm on the mighty Schuylkill River in northern Chester County,
Pennsylvania. I rewrote Tom's account from the Hudson River to reflect our
experiences on the Schuylkill. We have seen similar behavior by the eagle
pair on Herring Creek in Sussex County, Delaware.

"Two adult bald eagles were pirouetting a couple hundred feet over the
Schuylkill River above Hidden River Farm. They made fast passes by each
other, near misses by a feather’s width. Then, there were the usual wing
touches before talon grabbing and dropping into what looked like a death
spiral heading toward a river floor of shallow water and exposed rock.

It was eagle courtship. (This may have been the mated pair from nearby
eagle nests recently reported in Phoenixville.) This aerial performance of
grace, daring, and symmetry is usually performed by breeding pairs in the
days and weeks before the late-winter nesting season. We have
euphemistically called this “sky dancing.”

On an early spring dawn several years ago, we watched a pair of eagles
shadow each other over the icy water with loop-de-loops and wing-touches.
At the apex of a long arc in the sky, they locked talons–one turned on its
back in the air, the other mirrored it from above–and they went into a
free-fall for more than a hundred feet before releasing and flaring out
over the ice. A ritual of trust.

At the climax of each acrobatic move, they fell away in synchronized
flight—flap-flap-glide—both wheeling and banking away in perfect form. It
was like an exquisite ballet performance. At times they flew so close to
each other that they cast only one shadow, drifting across the landscape.
Their effortless yet powerful wing beats moved them through the air as a
single bird, communicating more through instinct than any utterance."

*wear a mask, wash your hands, keep your distance*
Robert W. Blye
34603 Doe Run
Lewes DE 19958-3332
302 945-8618
610 213-2413 mobile
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