An Eagle Rides the Rails

The bald eagle Sonora

Why is train travel so romantic? Swaying cars, clickety-clacking iron wheels, shrieking brakes, the abrupt and absolute dark of a tunnel and unspoiled natural scenery unrolling before you. The Verde Canyon Railroad cars offer optimal viewing with lounge type sofas and cozy tables. Friendly staff point out wildlife outside and carry cocktails inside, while a well-stocked appetizer bar tempts with an array of snacks. But soon you’ll be drawn to the outdoor car to gaze at the enigmatic Verde River, and watch the canyon walls rise in colors of ochre and gold. I rode the train in December as part of the 20 year anniversary of the railroad, and loved it.
Wild bald eagles nest along the Verde River, and seeing one of the massive predators thrills visitors and employees alike. But today, courtesy of the railroad’s partner Liberty Wildlife, there was a bald eagle riding on the train with her handler Joe Miller, and word traveled quickly among the passengers. Sonora is a three year old female that fell from her nest and severely injured her wing as a baby. She’s been with Liberty Wildlife ever since. Never having flown more than 60 feet from one side of her enclosure to the other she was reveling in the cool breeze as the train chugged along the canyon floor. Clutching Joe’s gloved fist with her talons the majestic eagle spread her wings and rode the wind! Seeing this from a distance of a couple of feet you can’t help but imagine how different her life could have been. Many of the birds that come to Liberty Wildlife with injuries are healed and do return to the wild, and on this day two red-tailed hawks were released. At a hairpin turn in the tracks the train stopped, so all the passengers could see. Two feisty red-tail hawks were drawn from their boxes, held for a moment while wishes were made for their well-being, then tossed into freedom.
The train ride is a marvelous journey through beautiful desert landscape, where you can see wildlife, relax and let your cares unwind. Try it soon!

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One response to “An Eagle Rides the Rails

  1. I was there and you more than captured the moment. I wish I had written this chilling rendition…what a talent!

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