The skies are lively over the meandering Rogue

My eyes have been glued to the skies above my little Rogue River cottage these days. And with good reason.

Whether I'm watching for breaks in billowing clouds of smoke or high-flying avian aeronautics or celestial fireworks, the shows have been breathtaking. (Correction: A word inadvertently omitted from this sentence has been added.)

I'm pleased to report the air quality around my little abode has improved this past week. Between the heroic efforts of firefighters, and an assist by Mother Nature in the form of cooler temps and dampening rains, the wildfires' fallout has eased. I hear the smoke is headed back our way. But my critters and I are grateful for even a temporary respite from the throat-closing, eye-burning, ash-bearing breezes of previous weeks.

Last night I sat out on the deck watching the big red ball drop behind pink and orange thunderheads. Later that evening, the inky skies put on an amazing display of shooting stars as I sat in my pink, overstuffed chair, discussing the day's events with a friend over the phone.

One meteor was so bold, bright and beautiful it brought an audible screech from yours truly as it exploded in a trail that streaked right to left — far across the heavens. Turns out I am not immediately eloquent in the face of stunning and startling aerial displays.

"Wow! Wow! WOW!" I screamed into Dove's ear.

Poor Dove must have feared her Lovey was being attacked by aliens. Or worse.

"What? What? WHAT HAPPENED?" she hollered back.

Earlier this week, I was sitting out by the river's edge, attempting to unwind from a long day in the newsroom. Rocking my cares away in the big, green, wrought-iron swing, my "ohming" and navel-gazing was interrupted by the unmistakable screech of an osprey.

The raptor was just upriver, screaming his head off and in heat-seeking missile mode, closing fast on a slow-flying bald eagle.

I didn't know what their beef was about. But the osprey continued his battle cry as he dropped down from the sky, making a beeline for Old Baldy.

Oh. Dear. Lord. Just when it looked like I was fated to witness an ugly midair collision, the eagle flipped over onto its back.

What the heck? Who knew eagles were such nimble fliers?

Without a single break in the rhythmic beat of his mighty wings, the eagle leveled itself in its now upside-down position, presenting its strong legs — and lethal talons — straight up toward his attacker.

Impaled osprey? Before my very eyes? Ugh!

Thankfully the eagle's defensive tactical maneuver changed everything in the osprey's mind. At least for the moment. And who can blame him? Those big, orange feet are humongous.

The osprey was clearly in full-on "Pull up!" mode. But he seemed to hang suspended in the air for a split second before he flapped himself into reverse. Banking hard to the left, the osprey spun around back toward me.

I figured the raptors' dogfight was finished when the eagle simply righted himself with a half barrel roll and continued slowly flying upstream.

But noooo! Mr. Osprey wasn't through with Ole Baldy. A quick circle in the darkening blue skies brought him back for a second attack.

The osprey pulled the same screaming dive bomb. The eagle once again performed his special "Bring it" back stroke, complete with complimentary pedicure viewing. The only difference this time was I noticed a second osprey was circling the action from a higher elevation.

"Are you nuts?" I cried to the osprey. "Give it up! Or he's gonna grab your gizzard for dinner!"

By now I was wishing I had a better video app on my iPhone. But apparently neither osprey were triple-threat material. They flew north while the eagle kept heading south.

And there was once again peace in the valley.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or sspecht@mailtribune.com.


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