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October 2016, vol 12 no 3

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Kathe L. Palka

Back from the Brink


“In nature nothing exists alone.”
~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Since summer on my walks along the South Branch of the Raritan River I’ve heard the occasional calls of a bird I can’t identify. Each time I see nothing unusual in the neighborhood. The voice is exotic to me and I wonder more than once if it might be an escaped pet. How long could such a bird survive?

mid-winter morning
along the riverbank
eagle chatter

Finally in late January, walking down my driveway to the mailbox, I hear it again and am astonished at what I see across the road from my house on the river. The same week I spot their nest just a bit downriver atop a high tension tower. I’m so excited I drive to the county park office to speak to a naturalist. He’s well aware of the pair and asks me to report any unusual activity I might see, particularly harassment by humans.

snow falling
on a sycamore limb
two bald eagles

I’ve since learned that after the banning of DDT the number of breeding pairs of bald eagles in New Jersey rose steadily from 1 to over 150 known pairs currently. Several miles downriver from my home another pair nests in a park under the watchful eye of a live camera feed. Sightings of the local nesting pairs and juvenile birds have become a joyous, frequent occurrence for me.

chill wind
trailing downriver, the peal
of an eagle


“chill wind” was previously published in Acorn, spring 2016.


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