June 2023

Vol. 51, No. 3

Musings from the Blind Birder: Meeting at the Intersection of Interspecies Encounters

Martha Steele

Birds are born, they live, and they die, often in the bills or talons of other birds. On a few occasions in my birding career and when I was sighted, I witnessed a raptor enjoying a meal of another bird. My focus was on the raptor tearing meat from its prey, noting its field marks, and enjoying the lengthy view. I thought little of the bird that was the object of the raptor’s hunger.

But I feel a starkly different emotion when I encounter or hear about a bird that died because of something we humans did. The death in early March 2023 of a female Bald Eagle that nested across the street from our house in Arlington, Massachusetts, deeply saddened me. I did not have any relationship with the bird, never having seen nor heard it. But I was excited about the fact that we had a nesting pair of eagles so close to my home. Their presence was another sign of the long recovery of this species, which was declared an endangered species in most of the lower 48 states from 1978 to 2007. The female eagle had reportedly preyed upon rodents poisoned by rodenticides that humans were responsible for placing in the eagle’s environment.

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