The Bald Eagle is not just an American symbol, it is also a quintessentially American story. Nearly wiped out by human heedlessness, development, and pesticide use, under the protection of the Endangered Species Act this handsome fish eagle has made a stunning comeback, rebounding in numbers and recolonizing areas where many thought they were gone forever.
Inside a Bald Eagle’s Nest: A Photographic Journey through the American Bald Eagle Nesting Season, by Teena Ruark Gorrow and Craig A. Koppie, captures a key component of the eagles’ success — their capacity to make more eagles. Starting in winter as the adults return to and repair their nest on the outskirts of Washington D.C. (with a view of the Capitol, no less!) the book follows through mating and egg-laying, incubation and hatching, and the rearing of three young to successful fledging.
The text is simple, and with the provision of a glossary at the back (along with a useful code of eagle-watching ethics and a list of resources) this book is suitable for students as young as the middle grades but won’t offer much new information to more experienced birders. The photos are the real highlights, though — a few of them are marred with unnecessary circles to show emphasis when better cropping might have done the job, but on the whole, they are lovely shots.
As an experiment, I also ran this book by a non-birding friend. This 35 year old man, a normal Missoula resident with no particular bird affinity, spend a good fifteen minutes gushing over the pictures of the fledglings and admiring the action shots of fishing and nest defense*. Based on his reactions, I suspect this would also be an excellent gift for the bird-curious or even those who only really like charismatic megafauna.
*he also described a Great Crested Flycatcher that appears in one shot as a “key lime pie bird”, which seems surprisingly apt.