Alaska Raptor Center, Sitka, Alaska
In 1782, the Continental Congress adopted what was called the American Eagle as our national emblem, though not everyone agreed. Benjamin Franklin opposed the choice, as he favored the wild turkey for such an honor. One hundred years later, the ornithologist Arthur Cleveland Bent commented that the Eagle's carrion-eating habits and attacks on the smaller, weaker osprey “hardly inspire respect and certainly do not exemplify the best in American character.” To add further insult, many felt the large birds were simply “lazy”. True, they often are amazingly sedentary, remaining on the same perch for hours at a time. The reason? Competency and efficiency. Adult eagles are free to sit and conserve energy precisely because they can secure food at will - with deadly speed and aim. Skilled hunters, they are able to capture waterfowl in flight and rabbits and mice on the run. But they also eat carrion and are accomplished food thieves, as many an osprey has learned. It’s called survival.
I ponder this majestic bird and see there are two sides to the coin - just as there are to our American values, collective actions, or individual characters. We all have our muddled times in the mud of this world - times when we are less than regal and certainly not proud. And there are the times we spread our wings, sunlight delineating all that’s pure and good and promising in us - and soar.
For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. Matthew 24:27 - 28
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;