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Felix on Eagle Watch

People say that the largest population of bald eagles outside Alaska can be found on Cape Breton Island in north-eastern Nova Scotia. A few hundred pairs of eagles nest up there along the shores of the Atlantic and Bras d’Or Lake. When winter comes, and the lakes freeze, and fish become scarce, the eagles have to migrate south. Most of them spend the winter in the Annapolis Valley, a solid hour’s drive from Halifax, where they are fed by local poultry farmers.

Felix and Mike stand in the snow by some harvested corn field close to Sheffield Mills, a settlement in the Annapolis Valley made up of a handful of farms, waiting for the eagles to feed on about a dozen dead chickens the farmer disposed of some 30 metres from them. Felix loves eagles, and the prospect of spotting them inspires his thoughts.

”Listen Dad, do bald eagles hunt cheetahs?”

“Cheetahs? That won’t work. Bald eagles live in Canada, and cheetahs in Afrika.”

“But if the eagles flew all the way to Africa, would they hunt cheetahs then, let’s say little cheetahs?”

“They won’t fly to Africa. It’s hot in Africa, and bald eagles prefer the cold.”

“I don’t think Canada is cold.”

“But surely colder than Rheinbach or Afrika.”

“Are you feeling cold?”


“Don’t be a wimp, Dad.”

“Felix, could you just stop that?”

“I think”, says Felix, and then he makes a short break, just enough to emphasize what comes next, “I think that I’m a better Canadian than you, eh.”

“Boy, why don’t you think about cheetahs? That’ll warm us up.”

”You know how fast cheetahs can run?”

“How about 70?”, Mike guesses having the strange feeling that he once knew better about these things.”

”Nope, it’s 108”, comes Felix’s spontaneous reply, ”kilometers per hour I mean. How fast are you?”

“May be 25ish?”

”Being fast is different”, says Felix grinning, ”Guess what? I’d also be a better cheetah than you.” Then he looks up. ”Wow Dad, the eagles are coming.”

And they impressively do so. One after the other, the eagles that so far have preferred to watch their waiting meal from some trees in the distance, leaving the ground to sea gulls and crows, fly to the feeding place. In doing so they don’t seem to be overly afraid of humans; some eagles pass by directly over Felix and Mike. They excitedly watch the eagles, Felix glued to the binoculars, Mike through his camera.

After half an hour the show starts slowing down. Felix has a great idea.

“Dad, when we’re back in Rheinbach, Germany, let’s feed eagles there ourselves.”

”Might not be all that easy”, says Mike and can’t help smiling.

”But look, Dad, that didn’t take more than ten dead chickens. I can buy you those.”

“The problem is there aren’t any eagles in Rheinbach.”

”Why on earth are we flying home, then?”

”At least, we’ll have carnival in Rheinbach. You won’t find that in Halifax”

”But I want to stay with eagles, moose, and whales.” says Felix. And then, for a long while, he silently watches the remaining eagles through his binoculars. ”It’ll be too boring without eagles” he finally says, then he pauses to take a breath, ”but carnival ... carnival is great.”

It’s a good thing to have carnival in Rheinbach. It helps a lot to keep things moving.

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