Eagle Eyes

Mature Bald Eagle Roosting on Mississippi River Ice

After days of bitter cold, it has warmed up some around here. Yesterday, we took advantage of this warmer weather for a little road trip up to the Riverlands. It’s eagle season there now and after initially not seeing any, we did eventually spy two. The pictured one was closest of the two, standing out on the ice. There were some Trumpeter swans about too, but not as many as we’ve seen in the past, but maybe we were there at the wrong time of day. The swans usually leave the Riverlands at dawn, only to return near dusk. They spend their days grazing in the adjacent cornfields. As we were getting ready to head back home, signaling that this might be the case, a thousand Canada geese returned in one giant flock.

Back to the eagles, walking around the Riverlands Audubon center, we came upon an eagle eye test. The first sign said that hundred feet away there was a second sign and inside the red square on it was a picture of some small eagle prey. My first comment was, “What red square? What sign?” Walking down the path, we eventually did see the sign and then the red square and finally the picture of the prey in the middle of it. While most humans, now myself included, have 20/20 vision, eagles have 20/5. This means that they can see an object at twenty feet as well as we can see it at five feet. They also can see further into the UV and the infrared than we can. In the center of our retinas is a fovea, where the light sensing cells in our eyes are concentrated, giving us better eyesight, when looking with that area. Eagles have two fovea, where one is for farsightedness and the other is for nearsightedness. Giving them the best of both worlds. I saw my eye doctor today and after examining me, he told me that both my vision and glaucoma pressure was good. I told him about the eagle eye test that I had failed, and he laughed at that.

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