Posts Tagged ‘golden eagle’

Golden eagle trying to expel pellet
Photograph by Wendy Miller,
Perris, CA
Used under Creative Commons license. Unedited from original. 

When I was in college, there was a series of urban myths built around the town of Stull, Kansas. The story usually involved a friend of a friend who had come to grief in Stull. A disappearance, a murder, a Satanic ritual in the Stull Cemetery, or sometimes just a deeply unnerving feeling experienced while changing your tire by the side of a lonely, rural highway. Sometimes we traded them like campfire ghost stories, especially the more ridiculous ones. The deeply troubling ones, the ones that seemed plausible, however, crept under our skin and stayed there.

These days, I drive through Stull every week or so, going between home and various appointments. I don’t like to drive Stull Road at night, as silly as that is, but see above, for the stories that crept under my skin.

One of the first things I noticed when I started regularly passing through Stull was the absence of any but the freshest of road kill. I might see a freshly splatted possum or a deer carcass from the night before, but when I drove past a week later, the possum would be gone and the deer carcass picked down to white bones. If you’ve done a lot of rural driving, you know that’s not standard. Dead raccoons swell and split on the shoulder, waiting on the arrival of a highway cleanup crew. It can take months for a dead deer to sink into the ditch with its desiccated hide draped over bones like a mortuary tent. In the environs of Stull, however, roadkill mostly disappears before it rots.

I’m not prone to superstition, but it did raise my hackles a bit, until the day I spotted a golden eagle excavating the corpse of deer that had barely begun to attract flies. She ripped her way into its belly, tore out some bloody piece of flesh it’s better not to think about, and flew away. After that, I began to watch more closely, slowing down and searching the skies and tree tops above Stull. Soon enough I discovered a second golden eagle, this one a little larger and with a bit more white among its feathers. He was drifting on a thermal, scouring the roadside for an easy meal.

I’m not a photographer, so I don’t waste my time trying to capture them that way. Instead, when time allows, I like to drive up and down the gravel roads around Stull, hoping for a glimpse of them. My greatest sighting so far has been the pair, rarely seen together, perched side by side on a telephone pole. Driving by, I knew they were watching me back. I have seen, too, what I suspect is their nest. A great jumble of branches balanced in the top of a black walnut tree that stands a few miles south of Stull.

The wingspan of a mature golden eagle runs about about six to seven feet, and when they’re hunting, they’re fast, with incredibly sharp eyesight. Would-be Satanists beware, the thunderbirds of Stull are watching you.

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