Bluebell Court Eagles Nestle into Nine-Mile Hearts

Nine Mile Falls community resident captures eagles nesting just 100 feet from her deck, and she shares her photos in a community Facebook page, which has drawn a huge following.
 
By Nicole Kidder, Reporter
 
Through Diana Gigler’s camera lens, the Nine Mile Falls community has fallen in love with the eagles of Bluebell Court. In a town where the eagle mascot is proudly on display, these two regal residents have unknowingly brought laughter, tears and hope to their human neighbors during the pandemic.
 
Last February, just as fears about COVID really began to spread, Gigler started sharing photos in a community Facebook group of a budding eagle’s nest just 100 feet from her back deck. Taking advantage of a firsthand view that most people only dream about, she captured intimate images of a young eagle pair undergoing their annual mating ritual. In the midst of a frightful news feed, the posts delivered a much-needed boost to the spirit.
 
“When I first saw them in June of 2019, I thought they couldn’t be building a nest so close to the house, but sure-as-shootin’, they were!” chuckled Gigler, who describes herself as someone who has always enjoyed taking pictures but knows nothing about birdwatching. “You can’t help but pay attention. They are so beautiful. I started sharing the pictures with the community because it was the most exciting thing in the world that, here in Suncrest, we have our very own eagles!”
 
For several weeks, neighbors watched with fascination as the couple collected nesting materials to add strength and comfort. We giggled at the messy-hair-don’t-care expressions and identified with mom grumpily waiting for food or her turn to fly off for a break. It was somehow comforting to know that even eagle partners have temper flares.
 
Alone in our homes, we cheered on the protective parents as they guarded the nest against predators ranging from heavy snow, wind and rainstorms, to hawks, golden head eagles and Canadian geese swooping by. The March 11 update that an egg had finally arrived gave us all a reason to smile, and we felt a collective joy when the eaglet arrived five weeks later.
 
“It was this story of hope. So many people told me it was the highlight of their day to check on them!” says Gigler, who is also an avid quilter, knitter and grandmother of six kids who live within a few blocks on the bluff.
 
When dawn broke on May 7 after a major rainstorm, our hearts broke at the news that the baby had fatally fallen from the tree. The post was immediately flooded with heartbroken emojis and well wishes for the devastated parents. Surprised at first by the depth of emotion, we realized how much we had all invested in this feathered family’s story during a time when connections with other humans had been restricted.
 
“It broke my heart, and I had gotten all these people involved in their story,” says Gigler, who celebrated her birthday in the shadow of the tragedy. She spent the next few days watching helplessly as the young bewildered parents processed their grief and then finally flew away. “It was a very tough time. I was so afraid they wouldn’t come back to the nest. That would have really left a hole in my life because I so enjoy watching them. I feel blessed that they have returned home.”
 
Just as she documented their journey to build a strong nest, tend their precious egg and nurture their newborn, Gigler continued to share pictures with her neighbors during the following months. Throughout the summer, the couple occasionally returned, checking on the nest to chase away interlopers or groom it for security and comfort.
 
In mid-October, Gigler shared her delight about seeing the two lovebirds reappear permanently. She noted that the pair seems to be building higher walls but admits she gets nervous when the fluffy grasses are added. In a hilarious video from Jan. 30, the couple bicker over where a specific branch should go. When he apparently wins the argument, she turns her back and then hops over to a nearby branch. After a beat, he gingerly waddles over and settles next to her.
 
“Her: Fine! Silent treatment,” laughed resident Linda Lobel.
 
“Just agree it is easier,” Fran McNeel responded. “Move it when he goes hunting!”
 
Shelly Johnson piped in, “That was both funny and beautiful!”
 
“I just love reading everyone’s comments, and I’m blessed to have these two eagles in my life,” says Gigler, a retired NICU nurse who continued to work 12-hour shifts at Sacred Heart until the age of 70.  “I loved my babies. It took me a while to adjust to not working. Then I got the eagles, and now I’m quite happy!”
 
Leaning on her niece for assistance, Gigler gave the Bluebell Court Eagles their own Facebook page and invites everyone to follow along with this beautiful love story. She is hopeful that an egg or two will appear by mid-March and a nestling will poke its head out around 35 days later.