By Charles Towne 

You might have seen it there on that high bluff overlooking Michigan’s Muskegon River.  The tree has dominated the site for how many years?

The two mature bald eagles perch side by side in the top of the great white pine.

Their nest is most impressive.  Six feet wide and eight feet tall it has been added to each year by the pair of large raptors.

Some of the branches that make up the nest are as large as a man’s arm and over four feet long. The resulting nest weighs over half a ton.

Built strong, it has survived many a storm and it will stand many more.

How many chicks have began their lives as fledglings, way up there?

There were those early years when the eggs were fragile, so very fragile that they broke just from being brooded, or they would break as they were being rotated, but the adults did what they do, they laid more eggs and sat their silent vigil.

The eagles didn’t understand D.D.T., only what they must do, and so it was since the deadly pesticide diminished in the food chain many young eagles have survived and thrived.

This particular year the female had brooded three eggs.  The first to hatch was a female followed a short time later by her brother.  It didn’t take long for the female to set herself to the task of eliminating any competition for food.

With determination, she rolled that last egg over the edge of the nest.

The egg dropped some twenty feet before it smashed into a large branch, its contents to fall lifeless and unknowing to the ground below to feed the ants.

Once the egg was gone the female turned her attention to her sibling, and with a hungry gleam in her eyes she attacked him, determined to either kill him or force him from the nest but he was more determined to live than his sister was that he should die.

The parents spent much time making countless trips back and forth from the river to the nest, carrying salmon to feed their rapidly growing, ravenous charges.

Yes, the eaglets grew and gained strength.

Whenever possible the female, never satisfied, stole scraps of fish from her brother, but he persisted and survived.

Nearing that time when they should leave the nest they practiced flying.

They would stand on the edge of the nest and grasp it with needle-sharp talons, flapping their wings, building strength in preparation for that day when they would no longer be confined to the only home they had ever known.

Time passed and the eaglets grew and more time passed until one day the young male, tired of fending off his sister’s savage attacks, stood on the side of the nest, and stretching his wings wide, he launched himself from the familiar, from death at his sister’s behest, into a new life.

More days passed and then weeks but the young female, now flying and able to fend for herself refused to leave the nest.

The youngster, easily distinguishable from the adult birds by the absence of white on her head, sat on the edge of the nest.  She dozed, now and then awakening to gaze out over what she considered her domain.

The two mature eagles sat side by side, close to each other not far away.  Clucking and chirruping to each other the female expressed her need, her concern, for she was again ready to lay her eggs.

All of her maternal instincts were directed now toward what would be.

A few more faint chirrups and the male leaned forward and spreading his wings he launched himself from the perch.

Dropping a few feet he caught an updraft and soared, up, up, and beyond.

The impertinent young female dozed in the warm sun.  She shook herself, fluffing her feathers and with closed eyes she groomed herself, raking her soft breast feathers with her powerful beak.  She slept.

The adult male, casting aside all paternal instincts, came in low and from the rear of the unsuspecting youngster.

Holding his feet in front of him, talons curled inward almost like a fist; he swooped in and struck the youngster from behind, knocking her from the nest.

Dazed, surprised, the young female tumbled almost to the ground before she was able to catch herself.  She rose, wondering what had struck her.

Circling around she was about to approach the nest again when her father struck again, this time from above.

As he dove down on the younger bird he screamed in anger, the cry unheard more than two hundred yards away.  For such a powerful bird the eagle has a surprisingly weak call, but the young female heard it just as she was struck that second time.

Again she tried to approach the nest but this time the adult male struck her such a blow she was forced to settle on the ground to gather herself.

She had learned her lesson.  That night she perched in the top of another tall pine some distance away but within an easy flight of the river.  The river after all contained fish and those fish were life itself.

Back at the nest, the female sits contentedly while the male perches protectively nearby.

Nestled into the female’s breast feathers are two eggs.   And so life goes on.


Dear Lord, please help us to be teachable.  Help us to listen to your voice and learn. You are so very gracious Father.  Teach us that we can be a blessing to the world, to all we meet.  We praise you Papa, and we thank you for what you have done for us and what you are going to do.  In Jesus Holy name we ask it, Amen


Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.


  1. I love eagles. They are, quite possibly, one of my favorite animals and teachers of “life-lessons”. I knew I would love this article when I saw the photo of them in the nest! What a great metaphor this was for unconditional love. Within the family network, it is often more emotionally painful for parents to administer tough love than it may be for a child to be on the receiving end. I believe that it is often necessary for us to “zoom out” and view everything through a bigger lens…seeing a much bigger picture. In this case, scary for the baby eaglet, but completely life changing.

  2. Dear NH, just perhaps that could be our life lesson this week. Yes, life changing it is. I have had eagles in my possession in the past as a zoo director. One, a male, had been hit by an automobile and could no longer fly. He was given to me to use for educational purposes by the federal government. He would sit near the top of his habitat, still regal, yet in charge, in spite of his limitations. Yes, regal, with fire in his eyes. Proud! He was still an eagle. Perhaps we could learn something valuable there about being what God intends for us to be in spite of our difficulties, our limitations? I wonder, at times, unlike the eagle, could our limitations be self imposed? And if so, what can we do to rise, to soar, where God intended? Chaz

  3. I see this as a great example of how God sometimes pushes us out of our comfort zone! For some of us, too long, have lived in the comfort of status quo! My prayer is that before my time is up I will have not only risen above the cares of life, but helped others to do the same. We serve an awesome God that desires for us to soar!

  4. Oh Don, what a valuable lesson. Your words remind me of when our Papa God, those years ago, forced our first parents out of the garden, they were not the only ones that suffered, but I believe He did too. When we are seperated from THE HOLY ONE, He must be broken hearted! The thing is, the good thing for us to remember is, He is still with us today! Soar my friend, He is always present to buoy you up! Thanks Don, and may God bless you, Chaz

  5. I was feeling down the other day, you know, you have been there yourself, sort of wallowing in self pity. , While I was grovelling in that state of self-worship the evil one whispered in my ear, “Ariel, my dear, why is it that God asks you to do the impossible task?” Now when he said this I laughed! Do you know why I laughed? You don’t? Well, I will tell you. I laughed because of the very fact that the sneaky old snake is a liar, and I know that he is a liar and therefore I can’t believe anything he says, therefore if he says that it is an impossible task I can naturally assume he is lying, and if he is lying I must also assume that it is not an impossible task but ultimately that victory is within my grasp! Praise our merciful God! Ariel

  6. Wonderfully written and so true. Sometimes we need to be reminded that with the Lord’s help we can make it in life outside of the nest. God bless Chuck.

  7. Donny, I guess any time we venture outside our comfort zone it causes discomfort and I suppose fear, but by venturing out beyond the familiar we grow, and fully mature in the Lord. I appreciate your feedback my friend, Chaz

  8. It sounds like the whole family of eagles had uncomfortable lessons to learn and roles to play (just like people). But, learn they did. Sometimes learning must come more forcibly, when we just aren’t getting it right. In the end, God seems to always make it work out for the good – thankfully! I’m glad they aren’t using that D.D.T. anymore. Someday, we will learn to live on this planet without poisoning everything.

  9. Discerning when it is time to leave the the known for the unknown, the shore for the sea, the well-worn trail for the faint path, the shouting of the crowd for the whisper of the Spirit, requires both faith and courage.

  10. Kristin, It is interesting that worms, be they red wigglers or nightcrawlers, don’t survive long in the hot sun. In fact exposed thusly they turn into cute little crispy critters in a very short time! It is also interesting that nightcrawlers and red wigglers are called “fishing worms” as if that were their sole purpose in life. I bet nobody ever asked for the worms opinion in this piscatorial issue. Nature as a whole abhors change, but then man makes his appearance felt by adapting to almost every environment. “Arrive and thrive” seems to be mankind’s motto. And on that subject, mankind, man kind, seems to be a contradiction in terms! Lord, please help us to grow in grace. Help us to withstand the white hot glory of your magnificent love. Amen

  11. Ernie, I was caught in a riptide and nearly carried out to sea and to my ultimate demise. On reaching shore I collapsed in exhaustion. That time, if I had been a cat, I would have used up all of my nine lives. God calls us to be bold, not foolish. Have you ever felt called to approach a stranger to pray with them, but shied away, afraid of what they might think of you? This Holy summons calls for Christian boldness, probably the strangest and least answered call of all. I think that God calls all of us to venture into the unknown, but, so few of us answer to the affirmative. May your courage be great sir, and your faith greater. Chaz

  12. Dear Ariel, thank you so much for commenting on Kristin’s comment. I couldn’t have said it better myself. It is almost as though you got into my head! Chaz

  13. What a great lesson! Sometimes love is soft and sweet, giving comfort, providing security and happiness and sometimes it can be rather harsh when we we are being taught to survive! I understand the young eagles, my brothers and I all left home for school or the military right after high school, our sister stayed in “the nest”. As I understand it nowdays parents are faced with the fleglings staying much longer than anticipated, freedom vs security is a question i guess we each have to answer for ourselves. I was lucky, I think, my parents prepared me as best they could and then kicked me out of the nest. Scary at first but man, what an adventure! Thanks mom and dad!!! In reading some of the comments, I had a thought ( one of my few!) That if there is a path, someone has gone ahead, if there is no path, you are about to have an adventure! What excitement to see what He has in store for you!

  14. Oh Richard, you shine my friend, you shine! I like the path idea for I have always felt that we are all path makers, clearing the way for those following. His word tells us, “Fear not, for I am your God…” Blessings on you pal, Chaz

  15. Note to Self on how to get my child out of the nest when the time comes. Also, God only gives us as much as He knows we can handle; even when WE don’t think we can…we can.

  16. Dear Gymrat, I wonder, do you suppose children are Papa God’s wonderful way of teaching us the fine art of caregiving? Of course, nobody walks into caregiving with their eyes wide open, we are usually blind to the task ahead. Children are a tad different. We bring them into the world, bounce them on our knees, laugh and cry with them, paddle their sweet little butts, and eventually see them leave the nest, hopefully as responsible adults. Thought provoking isn’t it? Just perhaps there will be a time when the tables are reversed, and they are taking care of us! As ugly as the thought might be, as we changed their nappies when they were little, eventually, God forbid, they will change ours? I love it when someone stimulates thought as you have done. Thanks so much on the comment and blessings on you and yours. Chaz

  17. As we go through life, ready and able to move on to bigger and better things, we are sometimes content and comfortable to stay right where we are. After all, we may be in our “happy spot”…
    the place we have been for awhile, a place we know and like. God has plans for each and everyone of us, knowing what is best for us. He is a patient God, but when we refuse to move, refuse to get out of the way of progress, God’s progress, it becomes necessary for Him to nudge us, help us along, move us out. It is usually not pleasant, but hopefully, we learn a valuable lesson from His tough love. I pray we all stay close to Him and sensitive to His voice and instructions. He wants only the best for us and His timing is perfect.

  18. Dear CSG, Your words are so wise and full of understanding. To write this way I must to assume that you have been called out of your comfort zone and it has been a painful experience. As we venture out, beyond that which we might consider reasonable in human terms, Papa God understands and not only guides us, but at times carries us to the other side. May He, our loving God preserve you and give you peace is my prayer, Chaz


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