Bald Eagle? Turkey Vulture? Pterodactyl?

I was up half the night researching birds of prey, looking for something that would help me ID the bird I saw yesterday. I thought it was a Bald Eagle because of it's shape and coloring, but I knew that was unlikely. It turns out, however, that there have been plenty of confirmed sightings of Bald Eagles right where I saw him. This bird flew differently than anything I've seen before, so I thought I could use it's flight pattern to ID him. It turns out that Bald Eagles do some of the weird things I saw this bird doing, and few other birds share this behavior. Nothing I've read so far eliminates the possibility of a Bald Eagle sighting in the middle of Framingham. On the other hand, it's just too crazy to be true - isn't it?

Maybe I should just report the facts. I was at the Mobil-to-go station on Route 9 and Maynard Street at about 5:00 PM on March 9th, 2009. I looked up and saw a HUGE bird circling upwards. It was smoothly and steadily flapping it's ENORMOUS wings. You could see how powerful his wings were by the speed of his ascent. Before long he disappeared from sight. I went into the store thinking I had seen either a Turkey Vulture or a Great Blue Heron. (I know they don't look alike, but at that point I hadn't seen much. I was going by size alone - and the fact that I have seen both species in the area before).

When I came out, I looked around and saw him as a little speck on the horizon to the north. He wasn't flapping anymore, just soaring in a circle. All of a sudden he began moving towards me, still riding the wind, but moving SIDEWAYS across the sky. He wasn't flapping or wavering or anything; he was motionless and the wind was taking him across the sky sideways. (I know how that sounds, but I swear to god it's true. I never saw anything like it, either)

In a few seconds he was almost directly above me, and I knew this was no Great Blue Heron. I mean, my mind was trying to make him into a Great Blue with his neck pulled in, but there was absolutely no way. There was no neck pulled in, no legs trailing, no long beak, and he was not even close to being blue. But the SIZE of those wings was unbelievable. I noted the "fingers" and the fact that the wings were not dihedral at all, and then he passed directly over me and I saw that his head was white, and the rest of his body was very dark brown or black. And his wingspan was at least five feet across.
Right after he crossed over route 9, he must have lost the wind. He had to pull back and he flapped his wings hard a few times to stay in the air. A second later he was "flat winged floating" again, headed for Framingham State. (Here is where it gets interesting) He then FLIPPED AROUND (like he was a supersonic jet doing a "barrel roll"), was UPSIDE DOWN for one second, and then FELL RIGHT OUT OF THE SKY!!!! He just tumbled down in a mess of feathers, somersaulting over and over, headed for certain death! I lost sight of him on the way down, just for a second while he was behind the roof of the gas station. My eyes were glued to the spot where he should have reappeared . . .but he never did.

Evidently he managed to save himself just in the nick of time.

That's the story. It is 100% true and I was stone cold sober when it happened.

A huge bird flew sideways across the sky, stood in mid-air flapping giant wings, flipped over until it was flying upside down, and then tumbled out of the sky and disappeared. And this all happened during rush hour on a busy street that's smack dab in the center of the biggest town in the country.

to be continued.

1 comment:

  1. I've seen acrobatics by eagles over lakes in New Hampshire and Florida: I wouldn't have worried about this eagle.

    Inverted flight is part of "youngster-play".

    I've seen this with a pair of "youngster-eaglets": afterwards, they flew directly overhead, and I saw that they were both PANTING! (Like two puppies might!)




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