What Were They Thinking?

Osprey Nest with pair of Ospreys, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Oconee River, Putnam County, Georgia

In Brooklyn, New York, back in the mid-1950’s I clearly remember our P.S. 244 teacher telling our class that bald eagles, beaver and other animals would soon disappear from the United States. I loved the notion of bald eagles, beavers, grizzly bears and such. I spent way too much time watching any and all TV nature shows that chronicled the predator and prey of the African veldt. Oh, how I would have loved to go on a hunt with Kenyan Masai, who were heroes of mine. Teachers were very authoritative when I was in grade school. I was saddened by my teachers forecast, and never forgot it.

In 1972, newspapers were reporting that major efforts to reduce Con Edison chimney emissions, along with new auto innovations, would begin to clear the New York City smog. Some months after, I remember looking out of my John Adams High School classroom window one day, and elated, I shared with my Biology class a new revelation! Look, we can see the New York City skyline, from our window! I had been teaching in that room for years, and never once could see the 24 miles aways Manhattan buildings.

In the late 1980’s we had a house in the Berkshire Mountains of Western Pennsylvania. One Friday, my family and I drove there for the weekend. Upon our arrival, the road to the house was . . . flooded? Huh? How could that happen? We carefully forded the inches of water. Later, I went out and found mud and dozens of sticks were clogging the culvert pipe, preventing water from the tiny pond from moving freely through the culvert pipe. I spent about an hour and a half removing the branches and mud. That after a several hours drive, that after a day at the office.

The next morning I awoke, took a morning walk down the driveway, and when I reach the culvert . . . flooded?? I’ll save the rest of the story: Beavers, Castor canadensis did it. I was both thrilled = Beavers! and dejected = Either we had to abandon our house forever, or the beavers had to go.

This pair of Osprey (Pandion Haliaetus), on Lake Oconee in Eatonton, Georgia clinch it. These majestic hawks, on their nesting stand (courtesy of Georgia Power)  just made me smile. Look, my teacher was wrong. Look at that wisened, determined, handsome fish hawk, a top predator, feeding on abundant, healthy fish. I smile. This is good, very good.

They had chicks hatched, shortly after. Winged beauties, restored, in the fullest sense.