Where Eagles Dare to Nest

Photo Credit: Phillip A. Redlinger, Eugene, OR.

I always get excited when I see an eagle soaring above. It’s usually a very quick glimpse, but I feel lucky and blessed to have seen one. Quite often, I’ve seen eagles during times in my life when I was facing a challenge or seeking some kind of guidance about making an important decision. I don’t really consider an eagle sighting some kind of “religious sign”, but somehow seeing them inspires me. For example, I was walking by the Umpqua River years ago, reflecting on what I should do about an unhealthy relationship I was in. I heard a chilling scream and looked up to see two eagles clutched together, plummeting towards the water. At the last second they separated and flew off in opposite directions. It was an awesome experience, and it helped me realize that I needed to let go of the unhealthy relationship (aw heck, if that’s not some kind of sign, I don’t know what is!) lol.

Now I’ve had a different, even more amazing experience seeing eagles. There’s a nest in a very tall tree at the northern base of Skinner’s Butte in Eugene, OR. A friend told my sweetheart Christy about it, and we went to check it out. The best way to find the nest is to park on top of Skinner’s Butte and take the trail from the northwest corner of the parking lot, then hope that there’s someone else there who can show you where to look. It’s very difficult to spot from the trail, and we had trouble finding it even the second time we went. (If someone can send me better directions, please Contact Me and I’ll revise this post).

When we first saw the nest, the mother was feeding three eaglets. We also saw a male sitting in another tall tree nearby. The treetop nest is about 75 yards north of the trail, so you’ll need binoculars or a camera with a good zoom lens to get a clear view.

The third time I went to watch the nest, I met Phillip and Jean Redlinger. They were very friendly and knowledgeable about bird watching and hiking. They had all kinds of cool gear (binoculars, a very nice camera with a huge lens, a GPS unit strapped to a backpack with what I imagined were other other high-tech goodies, and a monopod). Jean and Phillip sent the still pictures included in this post and I’m very thankful for their generosity!

On one of our visits, Christy and I took our cameras. I shot some video footage that we edited together in the clip below (there’s no audio).

I’m so glad that we learned about this family of eagles. It’s been a very moving experience each time we’ve visited Skinner’s Butte, and the fuzzy gray eaglets are growing fast. I’m thankful to the well-informed, friendly people we’ve met on the trail. They’ve taught us about the history of the nest and we’ve enjoyed seeing such a rare, beautiful sight. We have also been inspired to get outdoors more often (away from our computers) and plan to do more hiking. Seeing a mother eagle put pieces of rainbow trout in an eaglet’s mouth is something I’ll never forget!

I hope you take the time to see the eagles’ nest, Donovan

Here are a few more pictures that Phillip Redlinger sent to me. Click on these thumbnails to open a larger image: