Bald Eagle in flight. BraeBurn No. 3.
January 31, 2017. Photo by Jim Rath.

The Eagle has landed. BraeBurn No. 17.
May 12, 2017. Photo by Jim Frank.
When I was young, seeing a Bald Eagle was a big deal because of the gradual loss
of eagle habitat, shootings, and the widespread use of DDT to control mosquitos that
caused a food chain reaction that eventually weakened eagle and other raptor eggs,
all of which decimated the eagle population. In addition, eagles that ate waterfowl
contaminated with lead shot were poisoned. The species was declared endangered
in 1978 throughout the lower 48 states except in the Pacific Northwest, Minnesota,
Wisconsin, and Michigan where it was declared threatened.
Now, and many years later, Bald Eagles are back and have been removed from the list
of threatened and endangered species and it’s the perfect bird to feature in BraeBirds
during the month of our country’s Independence Day.
A Bald Eagle is one of the most unmistakable and distinctive of our birds given its 80”
wingspan, its iconic white head, and its white tail. The Bald Eagle is both a predator
and a scavenger, feeding on fish, waterfowl, and carrion.
And yes, we have Bald Eagles in the Houston area although it is surprising to see them
in an urban setting. I have seen them a number of times here and, interestingly, always
when I was on a golf course. We can now add BraeBurn as the latest location to get
a visit from our national symbol. BraeBurn member Jim Rath saw and photographed
a Bald Eagle in and above a bald cypress tree on hole number 3 on the last day of
January of this year (see his photo above, left) and there were a number of additional
sightings in April and May including the one shown above on the right.
That May 12th visit ended when the eagle flew a loop around the lake on hole number
18 and, before it could complete a second loop, was attacked by a very brave, and
much smaller, Cooper’s Hawk. The two raptors engaged in a short rolling aerial battle
over hole number 17 before both flew off to the east.
We hope “our” Bald Eagle returns and takes up more permanent residence at BraeBurn.