“An eagle,” Greg exclaimed.

I followed his gaze, and yes, there was a large black-bodied bird, with a bright white head and tail feathers, flying majestically down the creek valley. We turned to watch until it was completely out of sight, lost to view around a bend in our not-so-straight creek.

The bird had flown past, about 30 feet above the clear running water. It was only when it was completely out of sight that I realized that my heart was beating fast and that I was holding my breath. All time had been stolen by the bird’s stark splendor of its white head and tail punctuated by its dark, seemingly black body, as it slowly winged its way south to the river.

The shimmering creek water reflected the gray of the autumn sky overhead, and it occurred to me that what I had earlier thought of as a colorless day was actually filled with brilliant clear colors.

It seems that of late we have heard more of the screeching caw of our neighboring eagles as we go about our creek valley lives, but it is still rare that we actually see them. Mid-summer, we saw one sitting high in a tree on the upper edge of our upper field. We warily exclaimed of its beauty, but I was thankful to see the that the rooster had corralled his ladies under the rabbit hutches, and that the pigeons were huddling safely in their gazebo.

Without a doubt, the eagles are amazingly majestic. Their wings can span up to seven feet, and they can weigh as much as 16 pounds. The beat of the eagle’s wings, as it flew past, was slow and stately, as though it was in no rush to pass by, but eagles can easily fly 40 miles an hour.

They typically eat fish, and so the bird we saw was cruising along the creek valley with an eye for the bluegill, bass and crappie that are so easy to see in the crystal clear water this time of year, but eagles are also known to dine on smaller birds, hence my concern for my chickens and pigeons.

As evening fell across the creek valley, the colors did seem to mute. Gray seemed to once again blanket our world as I headed out to gather up the chicken eggs. A wisp of wood smoke wafted up from the chimney, giving a somewhat gray scent to the otherwise completely gray time of day.

I walked down past the chicken coop along the lower edge of the upper field, and there, off in the woods, something caught my eye. I walked closer for a better look, and there I saw a loose scattering of white feathers, all that remained of one of my homing pigeons. A wry smile crossed my face.

Somehow, my population of homers has been holding steady at about 25. Perhaps now I know the reason behind that somehow.

One of my little orange hens always follows along behind me as I gather the eggs. She walked with me along the lower edge of the upper field. As I bent down for a closer look at the white feathers, she too went in for a closer look. She picked one up in her bill, shook her head and dropped it, as if to say “Such is life here in the creek valley.”

I looked down at her. She really is one of my favorites. I headed back up the hill to the cabin, basket of eggs in hand. She followed along right behind.

“Now, you be careful, little hen,” I said. “Don’t tell the others, but you are special.”

As I climbed the porch steps, she veered off and ran out into the yard as only chickens can, half running and half flying as she skimmed along the ground. I imagined that she was singing to herself, “Don’t worry, Christine.

You tell that big bird to just catch me if he can, just catch me if he can, can, catch me if he can.”

I watched as she ran away. It was really all that I could do.

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in Ohio.