My Evening Commute and a Big Bird

30 August, 2009

I really must complement the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.  I commute on I-81 and, despite the replacement of no less than 6 bridges between Wilkes-Barre and Scranton, plus some other bridge work, the only major delays I have experienced have been the idiots who speed in the work areas and create accidents.  The traffic is sometimes slow, but the major backups are rare.  The lower speeds (frequently 35 to 45 miles an hour) does let me watch bumper stickers.

Today, I saw one FSM sticker, three Darwin Fish, twelve Christian Fish, one Darwin Fish mounting a Christian Fish, and sundry “W” stickers.  I also saw some birds.

Now I know that an interstate highway is not the ideal place to go birdwatching, but I often see vultures (usually over the construction areas (hmmm)), Red Tail Hawks, Sharp Shin Hawks and other large avian theropods.

Today, I spotted very large bird up ahead.  In my mind, I started wondering, “black or turkey?”  Vulture, that is.  But it did not look ‘right’.  Wing shape, wrong.  Tail shape, wrong. Wingtips, wrong.  Tail, too light.  Could it be?

Sure enough, as the traffic slowed to about thirty-five miles an hour, the bird banked away from me and, in the full glare of the afternoon sun, the bright white head and tail showed up perfectly.  A beautiful adult Bald Eagle.  Sorry.  We’re in Pennsylvania.  A beautiful Bald Iggle.

I glanced at the cars around me (at 35, not difficult (just make sure I have ample space between me and the idiot in a BMW 740il in front of me (talking on his cell phone))) and realized that I was the only one looking at the Bald Eagle.  Every single other driver was on a cell phone (a few were texting).

So, folks (not that anyone will listen), put down the damned cell phones and, if watching the road is too boring, at least watch the beautiful descendents of the therapod dinosaurs.

And the tune on my Zen?  Fanfare for the Common Man.



  1. Haven’t been up your way for a few years, but I used to be in a group that playe at Jim Thorpe and Elk Mountain resort. It was always nice to see the wildlife.

    This morning I played for a church in a little town about an hour from here, and we also saw an eagle and a couple of herons. Also, two turkeys.

    Saw something else which made me chuckle, the local Amish were going home from wherever they were hold their religious meeting in that area, and I noticed that one of the buggys had a set of red fuzzy dice hanging in the windshield.

  2. (((Billy))):

    Is it too corny to congratulate your for having an Eagle Iggle Eye? It’s nice when unexpected surprises like this happen.

    Red, fuzzy dice, eh? Maybe some of your local Amish have a gambling problem. (They definitely have a gambling problem if they’re trying to gamble with those dice.)

  3. Last Thursday, I was having a really crappy day at work–cranky customers, obstinate engineers, and the payroll service didn’t deliver on time. I was on my way to pick up the paychecks, and a great blue heron rose up from the baylands marsh I was driving by, and flew over me. (I work about 5 minutes from Alviso, the crotch of SF bay) That lifted my mood for the rest of the day.

    We don’t get iggles out here, so I’ll settle for a great blue heron.

  4. (((Billy))), around here we very seldom see a bald eagle, but where we were yesterday (in “The Cove) there are some golden eagles, and that’s what we saw. If I see eagles it’s usually up near Montoursville, and so far they’ve all been bald eagles.

    Chappie, seeing those fuzzy dice was a day-maker. The guy driving the buggy saw what we were looking at, pointed at them and gave us a big grin and wink. We laughed and gave him a thumbs-up.

    Also, here in Pencil Tuckey we are not like the rest of the country in many ways: we have the afore mentioned large, regal bird of prey known as the ‘iggle’, there are terible, large, striped cats of ferocious habit and fearsome aspect that seem to affix labels to retail items, they are known as ‘taggers’, our statuary is made of ‘morble’, we dine on a commestable known as a ‘sammich’, and drink a beverage known as ‘wutter’, sometimes ‘wooter’. There’s much more, but…

    The wildlife around here is getting quite urbanised, we have bears waltz through the center of town a couple times a year, and right now I’m watching a coyote eyeing up my neighbor’s rabbit hutch, right from my office window.

  5. It is not a car it is BMW !

  6. One of the best things about my commute is it filled with hawks, osprey and, sometimes, bald eagles. True story: one time something dropped from the sky in front of my car. While slamming on the brakes I barely had time to tentatively identify it as a snake before a bald eagle swooped down, snatched it up and flew away. If I hadn’t hit the brakes I would have run him over. They really are magnificent creatures.

  7. Huh. Bald Eagle… huh. That’s nothing. During my commute this morning I nearly stepped on several specimens of the elusive “City Pigeon”.
    As if that weren’t breathtaking enough, I, (accidentally), watched two of them making sweet, sweet love on my workplace rooftop/cigarette-lounge about a week ago.

  8. Sarge: Were the turkeys in the church? And fuzzy dice on an Amish cart? Is that a sign of the impending apocalypse?

    Chappie: Is still say ‘eagle.’ Unless it’s the Philadelphia Eagles, in which case an obscene gerund usually precedes the noun.

    Mutzali: I’ve always like Great Blues. Even though herons are a comparatively young genus, they always look so delightful mesozoic.

    Sarge: When I lived in Sharpsburg, a white-tail crashed through the bank window, ran around inside, and then left via the other, unbroken, window. Yeah, the wildlife can get rather blase in town.

    BMW Wallpapers: Thanks for stopping by. No, it’s an overbuilt expensive gashog usually driven by rich idiots (the big ones, at least).

    Cyberlizard: Good thing the eagle wasn’t sitting on a cactus eating the snake. You’d have had to found a new Aztec empire.

    Postie: Where did pigeons live before there were cities?

    • Ur… Haven’t there always been cities? Stone Pigeons must have evolved from stone gargoyles.

  9. While driving with my husband in Wyoming and Nebraska he is always pointing out birds – bald eagles, golden eagles, and hawks. Once he was taking a picture of a golden on a fence post when the bird decided to take off. They are magnificent.

  10. I just drove through that stretch of 81 last weekend, on my way to and from Wallenpaupak. The only traffic I got into was when construction workers, for no apparent reason that I could see, decided to reduce the lanes from 2 to 1. As soon as we passed the guy with the flag hustling us into the left lane, the traffic immediately moved back into 2 lanes. I didn’t understated the point, unless they were trying to slow us down to look at birds.

    Speaking of which, there are a couple of them (Bald Eagles)in the cove I visited at the lake.

  11. Kate: A few years back, on a family vacation to Yellowstone, we happened to see a bald eagle in a tree. He looked pretty big until we noticed a Golden Eagle in the next tree. Had to be at least 8 inches taller.

    Spanqi: Sounds like you hit a lane closure as it was being done. They usually wait until the lane is closed before they actually do the work.

    And, once again, a Scarlet Team allstar drives right past me . . . . Hope you enjoyed your vacation.

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