(The feature photo above was taken by Kris Sundelius Lundine.)
There are a record number of eagles wintering along the Mississippi River in the Midwest this year. They were forced to migrate when ice coverage in northern states blocked access to their major food source. They benefit from the locks and dams in this area, where turbulent waters are free of ice and plentiful with stunned gizzard shad.
A friend and I ventured out recently in hopes of viewing a few of the regal birds. Happily, we discovered dozens inhabiting one section of the river. We counted 75 eagles perched in the dense trees of a small island, and witnessed fish being snagged from the frigid water by strong, agile talons. My friend pointed out the pairings; the brief separations when one eagle circled the area before returning to its mate.
As we were leaving, a third of the eagles lifted from their perches and filled the sky overhead. Their soaring was majestic, their individual and collective statement stunning.
No wonder David used eagles as an example of eminence in Psalm 103: 2Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— 3who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
And in Isaiah 40:31, Isaiah wrote: But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.