A centuries old story told that an eagle goes through a rejuvenation process after the difficult season of raising their young eaglets. It was believed that each parent would return it’s single-hood cave of solitude on a high mountain. The legend held that there in the cave alone, the eagle would remove all of its feathers that were damaged from hunting and defending only to wait in seclusion until they grew out again. While waiting, the eagle would perch outside of its rocky home and sharpen its beak and talons once again to its former glory. Sitting perched in the sun for hours each day it stared into the sun and thus its eyes were strengthened. This story, although true in some aspects, is only metaphorical in others, as there has been no evidence supporting the claim that eagles remove all of their feathers. Like most birds, they go through the natural process of molting. And they do return to their cave in solace in between mating season.
Here are the facts: Eagles mate for life. Both parents have a vital part in raising their young. They make their homes and nest most commonly in rocky cliffs. At some point when the eaglets are old enough, the mother, knows to put twigs and rocks in the nest to make it uncomfortable enough so that baby eagles will crawl out and begin the process of flight training!
What can we learn the mother eagle? As a mother eagle stirs up the oils in her eaglets so that her young can grow its long sleek feathers, we can as parents can stir up the oil of the gifts inside of our children through prayer and worshiping together as a family, and by helping them to hone their skills and talents. Paul even told Timothy to stir up the gift that was imparted to him by the laying on of hands. (2 Timothy 1:6-7) By this we know that we can stir up the gift in others, but also in our own selves.
Eagles have more than one set of protective eyelids, and like sunglasses their eyelids can block out the harmful rays so that they can fly toward the sun. Malachi 4:2 refers to the Lord as the Sun of Righteousness. We, like an eagle must keep our eyes focused on the one that strengthens our eyes, and renews our strength. This scripture also mentions the Lord’s wings! His creation tells us about his character.
Allow me to deviate a little from the eagle story for a moment to look at a parallel about how the eagle looking into the sun can be seen in the life of another believer, John the disciple of Jesus. In Revelation chapter one, John describes Jesus as one who was like the sun shining in all of its brilliance. John fell at His feet as though dead. But Jesus told him not to be afraid. “It is I”. He said. This same Jesus had been the closest friend John had ever known. At that moment in John’s vision, he may have recalled how he laid head on Jesus’ chest at The Last Supper. It was this same Jesus who had entrusted the care of His own mother, Mary to John at his dying breath. Now, Jesus appeared to John at the latter part of his life when he was now an old man. John had persevered through temptations, carried the gospel. He had taken care of Jesus’ mother. He had been persecuted. He was still yet alive and now Jesus appeared to him shining like the sun at noon day in full power! His voice was like many waters or the sound of thunder! When Jesus said “Don’t be afraid, I am the Alpha the Omega” the beginning and the end, I have feeling that it was very personal to John. It was like he was saying, “I was there at the very beginning of your life and ministry, and now that you’re an old man, I’m here faithful until the end. I will never leave you or forsake you, no matter what you go through, John. I am your Omega! I will carry you through to the end because I am THE OMEGA! I’m the First and the Last!” That’s powerful isn’t it? Especially when we think of how it applies to us living here and now in these last days! Very Exciting!
Like the eagles we must have a home on a sure firm foundation. There is no rock like our God! Psalm 18:2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Let it be said of me “On Christ the Solid Rock I stand! All other ground is sinking sand!
Have you ever seen an eagle on the television flying above the storm clouds? They can soar high above storms and rain. To do this we have to keep our eyes focused on His word and put our TRUST IN HIM! The air is pure and the vision is clear above the clouds!
In 1997, I was in my single-hood cave. Like an eagle I was waiting for the day that God will tell me “now is the time to fly” and meet up with the male eagle in the sky for the beginning of the journey of married life! I wrote this song for my then husband to be on his birthday. I had heard the story of the eagle and how that they would wait in their cave before they mated for life and just at the right time, when the currents of the winds were perfect, they would leave their single cave of solitude and mount up into the sky with a cry together as they began their courtship, mating, and finally raise the eaglets together. Each parent eagle doing its job whether it be nest making or hunting and gathering, until the eaglets were able to survive on their own. The story of the eagle was so inspirational to me at the time of my own courtship and marriage. It is true, though I did not see it then, that there would be times, when as a couple of eagles returning to solitude we would have to go alone before the Lord and seek Him and let him take out that damaged place so that it could grow healthy again. I once saw a bird who had its legs bitten off completely by our dog be miraculously healed! My daughter had faith to pray for the bird to be completely healed. The bird was missing body parts one minute and became completely whole the next. They were formed again! It was a supernatural instantaneous miracle! If you are in a season when you’re not sure what God is doing with you, wait earnestly on the Lord. Get alone with God and ask Him to remove the things are keeping you from growing stronger and fulfilling your purpose. He’s a solid foundation, a secure refuge, a safe haven and home. And while you are waiting, He is able to restore feathers, talons, legs, beaks, and everything that pertains to your life! “Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.” (Isaiah 35:3)
Isaiah 40:31 “.. those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.”
Malachi 4:2 “Unto you who fear My name the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in His wings.”
Click below to listen to “Wait Like an Eagle” song written for Jeremy in 1997 on his birthday.
Wait Like an Eagle (c) 1997 Laura Cates
Other interesting facts about eagles:
Eagles are monogamous birds. Golden eagles build their nests on high cliffs, tall trees or rocky crags, where predators can’t get to the eggs or eaglets! Often a pair of eagles will return and use the same nest for several years. During this time, the male will bring food for the sitting female. Golden eagles usually mate when they are 4 years old. Females lay up to four eggs, and both parents incubate them for 40 to 45 days. Typically, one or two young survive to fledge in about three months. (Source: National Geographic)
Eagles and other raptors generally do not pluck out their feathers. All birds, including raptors, do go through a process of losing feathers and this is called a molt. A bird’s feathers do suffer regular wear and tear so, ultimately, the quality of the feather will decrease and it will need to be replaced. The feathers are not lost all at the same time. If this were true, the bird would be unprotected from natural elements and more importantly it would not be able to fly. Eagles and all other raptors need to fly in order to hunt and survive so the loss of flight would most likely mean starvation for the bird. Each feather comes from a feather follicle much like hair does on a mammal. When the feather is first emerging and developing it has a blood supply coming from the body going up into the shaft of the feather. If this feather is broken or pulled out it is not only very painful for the bird, but could result in blood loss and damage to the feather follicle. Severe damage to the feather follicle could result in the permanent loss of the follicle. If a feather is lost before a molt it could take up to a year to be replaced. Raptors and all other birds molt in a symmetrical pattern. If a primary feather is molted on the left wing, the same feather is molted simultaneously on the right wing. This can ensure balance in flight for the bird while it hunts during this molting period.
The average life span of an eagle is approximately 30 years. The eagle, like many other living organisms, does not have the luxury of making the decision to extend their life cycle far beyond what is normal for its species. In captivity, an eagle may live beyond what the average life expectancy is, because it receives both regular and nutritious meals, has access to veterinary care and can be sheltered from the harsh elements by housing provided by the facility caring for the bird.