In August 2004, Beaver Lake had discovered some new friends. The lake filled with
about 50 Canadian geese pigging out on algae near the shoreline. Their leader kept them
in tow. When one goose ventured out on his own, he quickly swam to him and pecked him
hard on the head. Soon the wayward goose was back in line.
An egret soared high above the water. I anticipated where I thought he would land and
rushed to the area. He dropped out of the sky a few feet from me. He busied himself fishing.
Suddenly, a splash! A mallard landed to see what this new creature was doing. Soon, another
plop and a green-back heron waded over. Now the egret and heron stood toe to toe to fight over
the minnows swimming by. They had a real fishing contest going as each grabbed a minnow and
gulped them down.
Suddenly, the green-back heron took off and landed on a log. As he flew, he belted out a very
strange, angry sound similar to a squeaky screen door slamming shut. Soon he soared away.
The lake turned black with a sea of coots. They paddled back and forth checking out the
banquet of minnows, algae, and small fish.
A piercing sound filled the air. It was similar to sea gulls. Two large white birds soared, dived and
plucked bass right out of the lake. They grabbed the fish and flew into the air with them. A nearby
walker informed me the white birds were red-eye tropic birds.
The geese continued to munch on the algae. The mallards joined in. The egret nibbled at the
minnows. I waved to him and he walked out of the water and stood near me. As I quietly spoke
to him, he turned his head from side to side as if listening. I called him “Eddie.” He seemed to
like the name.
In the next few weeks, I saw Eddie just about every day. He was so friendly and came even
closer to me. One day, Eddie checked out a movement in the reeds. As the reeds parted, out
stepped a blue heron. He was smug and sure of himself. He strutted back and forth. Every
now and then, he stood like a statute. This was Eddie’s territory and he wasn’t going to let
any blue heron steal it. Eddie flapped his wings at the heron. He responded with a few flaps of
his own and stuck out his chest. Back and forth they flapped at each other. Finally, Eddie
rushed at the heron hard. He flew into the air with a chilling scream. The war was over and
Eddie reclaimed his territory. The blue heron landed on the other side of the marsh and glared
Just a few hundred yards away, a crowd gathered. A loon was giving lessons in how long he
could stay under water. He dove into the lake and minutes passed before he surfaced. After
several deep dives, he brought up his bounty of fish.
By the end of September, Eddie and his friends had left Beaver. The lake hung with an
emptiness. All that remained where some mallards and song birds announcing autumn’s
arrival. It was a summer to remember—blessed by my funny bird friends.
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