Bald eagles have an inherently regal quality about them. I love those videos that show an eagle diving toward the blue waters of a pristine lake and adeptly catching his prey. His eyes are intense, his skill remarkable, and his mission clear. There is something quite satisfying in watching that majestic bird successfully put fresh fish on the dinner table.
A May 2018 edition of The Macon Telegraph told about a middle Georgia eagle that was euthanized due to injuries. One of the eagle’s wings had been broken during a collision with a vehicle. According to the article, the eagle was feasting on roadkill, a practice that seems inappropriate for such a stately creature. I’ve learned since, unfortunately, that such behavior is not isolated.
I mentioned the story to a man who spends a lot of time outdoors. He said that not only will eagles eat roadkill, but they’ll sometimes run the buzzards off to claim it. Up until that point I was trying to give the wayward Macon eagle the benefit of the doubt. I thought he was perhaps devouring a critter he had been pursuing. But now I’m thinking that he had found some leftovers by the highway.
It’s hard to imagine how that eagle had strayed so far from what he could have been. Instead of a magnificent hunter he had become a lowly scavenger. Rather than riding high on heavenly winds he was standing along the highway mimicking unseemly behavior.
It’s possible he wasn’t taught well by his parents. Maybe he grew up having to figure it out for himself and never learned what Jesus said about choosing the straight and narrow path (Matthew 7:13-14). Having loving parents who are good examples goes a long way in life. Perhaps that eagle didn’t have solid guidance at home and didn’t find it elsewhere.
Or it’s possible he came from a good home but drifted away from what he had been taught. Maybe he kept seeing those buzzards congregate and his curiosity got the best of him. He may have noticed they kept going back for second helpings and decided it must taste better than it looked. What at first may have seemed repulsive probably became more acceptable over time.
It could be that he was influenced by some wayward friends. Once his pals crossed that line of propriety, they may have encouraged him to join them. It’s easy to imagine them saying, “Why don’t you just try it? One time won’t hurt you.” Peer pressure can be a powerful motivator. Fitting in is more comfortable than standing alone.
There’s also no telling what role that television, movies, and music may have played in that eagle’s downfall. He was probably offended at first by situations that glorified roadkill dining, but I expect he got used to it as it became more common.
He may have flipped the channels, but he probably didn’t see much difference in the content. I’m sure he didn’t want to unplug his TV, so he just kept watching those buzzards gather along the roadside. With movies and music also glamorizing the buzzard lifestyle, he perhaps began to think it wasn’t so bad after all.
Even if that eagle had serious doubts, he may have been too polite to express them. If he took a stand against the buzzard lifestyle, then he would no doubt be criticized as narrow minded and uncaring. He might even have been accused of having no love or compassion for the buzzards themselves. That eagle probably found it a lot easier to stay quiet and try to blend in.
It’s a shame that a master of flight died while walking the low road of life. It’s mostly his fault I guess. He was in a place he shouldn’t have been and doing something he wasn’t intended for.
It’s too late for him, but maybe some other eagles will learn from his tragic demise. The choice of fearlessly soaring in the sky or scavenging the roadways would seem to be a simple one.
Those videos that show an eagle diving for a fish are nice, but I had hoped one day to see that take place in person from a front row seat. I’m beginning to think that may never happen. My expectations have been tempered a bit when it comes to eagles.
The thing that troubles me most though, is that it seems to be getting harder to distinguish the eagles from the buzzards. I think it’s because they’re increasingly dining on similar fare. Someone should warn the other eagles. Someone should tell them about that eagle with a broken wing.
But I’ll probably stay quiet and watch something on TV. It’s a lot easier to just blend in.