Full House

Courtesy photo

WITH the constant supply of food and nurturing of their parents, young eagles grow at a rapid pace.

For the past 11 years, resident bald eagles, nicknamed Black and Decker, have lived and thrived in the Verde Canyon, producing offspring almost yearly. The adult birds prepare the nest, lay the eggs, and watch fervently until the young eaglets become self-sufficient and can survive on their own.

It takes about 35 days until the chicks are hatched. This is a critical time situation. If the nest is disturbed, or the eagles feel threatened by man, they often will abandon the unborn, leaving the eggs for predators.

Now that a chick has hatched, the parents become fierce partners and protect the eaglets with their lives. Both mother and father take turns hunting, feeding and watching over the nest. Adult eagles feed mostly on carp, native fish and ducks. With the constant supply of food and nurturing of their parents, young eagles grow at a rapid pace and quickly begin to lose their white down and grow feathers.

Passengers onboard the Verde Canyon Railroad are generally privileged to watch the eaglets feel their way. By May or early June, as the young eagles test their wings and build strength, they take that first small flight as doting parents and passengers observe. Unfortunately, the new eagles typically fly north to test their own hunting skills where salmon and other food sources are plentiful in the mild summer climates. The resident couple, Black and Decker, remains behind. They continue to be a constant reminder of our enduring fight for freedom and our everlasting romance with nature.

"Nature is what sets this trip apart from others. You simply won’t see bald eagles, the variety of wildlife or pollution free environment anywhere else," says Teresa Propeck, marketing director. “As a result, two to four eaglets hatch annually. And, as many as 36 eagles have been sighted on just one trip through the canyon!”

“The Verde Canyon Railroad, wealthy in archeology, history, geology and magnificent manmade rail structures, is a wildlife and waterfowl paradise. Feathered friends abound, including the Great blue heron, a variety of hawks and falcons, egrets, and a multitude of ducks, are all current residents. But, the most majestic, is of course, the bald eagle,” added Propeck.

To see Mother Nature’s timeless Artistry and the prolific Verde Canyon ecosystem firsthand, call 1-800-293-7245, or visit the railroad’s Web site at http://www.verdecanyonrr.com

The Verde Canyon Railroad is located at 300 N. Broadway, Clarkdale. Passengers are encouraged to arrive approximately one and one-half hours prior to departure.

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