Duluth: Bird City
Raptors: The sight of a bald eagle stirs a person. I used to live in more southerly climes where they were less common, so it has been a treat to see one every now and then up here. I saw them a lot after my divorce, when I had to drive halfway through Minnesota every two weeks to exchange my daughter like a prisoner. I pointed out bald eagles to my child on these drives, barely able to contain my excitement, while she did that kid act of being bored with everything. Later I visited her at her mom’s house in a rural Winona valley. There was a field of tilled earth on the dirt road to their home, and it was positively overrun with bald eagles. As I drove past, I saw fifty of them together walking around in the mud with their dirty talons. I said to my daughter, “Now I understand why you’re never excited to see a bald eagle — you see so many of them every day, they’re like rats here.” She said, “Yup.”
Hawk Ridge overruns with bird nerds. Hawks soar over the city alone or in twos and threes, or by the dozen during migration. Cold air off the lake hits the warm hillside, a clash of airmasses creating lift — they love that. Unimaginably high with laser vision watching for unwary pigeons or rabbits, eating them on the roofs on people’s houses. I saw feathers raining past my window one day. By the time I figured out a hawk was eating a pigeon on my roof, it was gone.