Summer Bucketlist: Bird Gawking

Summer Guide 2019

click to enlarge Summer Bucketlist: Bird Gawking
Wilson Criscione photo
Don't approach the eagles, because they'll fly over your head anyway.

When I was a kid, my family would spend just about every weekend at Buttonhook Bay on Lake Pend Oreille. It was special because it's where I saw my first bald eagle, swooping down 10 feet away from the dock and catching a fish.

Ever since, I became obsessed with birds of prey. I'd constantly look up into the sky looking for them. From the dock, I would call out to the osprey, mimicking their signature "EEH-EEH-EEH" sound. Sometimes, I'm certain they'd call back to me, and I'd ignore the sound of a mildly annoyed lady at the boat next to us asking, "What the heck is that kid doing now?"

But here's the thing: While I admired these birds, I was also terrified of them. One time, we heard an eagle calling across the bay, and I went with my dad out on a skiff, rowing up as close to the eagle as we could. And I could not handle it at all. It was too close. And I knew, deep down, that these birds were better than me. They could fly! What could I do? If they wanted, they could swoop down, dig their talons into my shoulder and throw me off a cliff. All I could do is scream at them like an idiot. I demanded that my dad row the other way. I totally ruined it.

Anyway, as a well-adjusted adult, I now know better than to be terrified of a bird. But my obsession with them lives on. That's why my summer bucket list is to simply do anything at all that will put me in the presence of a giant bird of prey. Whenever it happens, it's a good day. When an eagle flew over my head at the rehearsal for my wedding, it felt significant, like the eagle gods were blessing our union. It's like a sign: No matter how bad things get, there are still majestic birds flying above it all.

So that's it. That's by bucket list. Finding birds. And this time, I won't lose my shit.

Spokane Jewish Cultural Film Festival @ Gonzaga University Jepson Center

Through Feb. 5
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About The Author

Wilson Criscione

Wilson Criscione is the Inlander’s news editor. Aside from writing and editing investigative news stories, he enjoys hiking, watching basketball and spending time with his wife and cat.