In stock

Trim: 6 x 9
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-942294-69-6

Eagles Over Canaan

Edwin Daryl Michael

In Eagles over Canaan, we get to know bald eagles up close as they construct a nest, hunt, mate, and rear ever-hungry nestlings.  Readers are rewarded with an insightful, in-depth glimpse of their lives and the challenges they face.

Dr. Michael spent 30 years researching in Canaan Valley.  This fact-based, fictional novel provides an excellent understanding of eagles connectedness to the wetland ecosystems and diverse habitats of Canaan Valley.

Bald eagles did not nest in West Virginia until 1981 and were not residents of Canaan Valley until 2015, but are now successfully breeding.

Dr. Michael spent thousands of hours observing bald eagles in Canaan Valley, and shares his observations in this fascinating novel.  He paints a picture that you will not soon forget.


Book Review by Martha Wolfe

For those who live, frequent, or wish to visit Canaan Valley—that highland wonderland—ED Michael paints a vivid picture of its wild inhabitants. Far from the environment of the lower elevations, both in climate and ecology, Canaan Valley has its harsher elements and  unique habitats. Michael has written about the coming of Coyotes to Canaan Valley and now, in Eagles Over Canaan, he tells the story of the Valley’s first recorded successful bald eagle nest.

Michael’s novels might be described as a mixture of Scientific American with All Creatures Great and Small. As a life-long wildlife biologist Dr. Michael knows of what he speaks. Readers will find statistics and facts not often found in a “novel,” at least not with Michael’s decidedly scientific phraseology. Aerial courtships—the “cloacal kiss”—are well defined by statistics on copulation; delightful scenes of nest building and raising nestlings include descriptions of an egg’s anatomy and temperature requirements for viable eggs. I learned that an “eyrie” is a nest plus proximate limbs that support it and provide perches for adults during incubation. I learned that an eagle’s nest is around five feet wide, three feet deep, and weighs over five-hundred pounds!

Michael is at his best describing dangerous situations with vivid descriptions to captivate our imaginations with trepidation and delight. An explorer at heart he has spent his most recent decade hoping for, rooting for, and enabling a pair of bald eagles to survive and thrive in the Valley. His tenacity paid off when he finally spotted a nest below Sand Run Lake in 2022.

Writing in his characteristic mixture of novelistic and memoir prose, Michael encourages us to empathize with his “characters.” He names them and puts them in situations fraught with peril. The parents are Talona, the female, and Timbre, the male; their nestlings are a female named Dahlee and her brother Leuca.  The family unit becomes dear to us as we read about their daily trials—the endless search for food and incessant day and nighttime threat from predators—all of which are deductions gleaned from careful documentation of an Eagle webcam associated with the Western Pennsylvania Audubon Society.

There is death by rat and lead poison; flash-mobs of ravens, crows, vultures, and eagles at a deer carcass; near disaster when a black bear invades the nesting tree; and another when a Great Horned owl (“the tiger of the woods”) attacks Timbre. Even knowing that predators need a meal just as badly as the eagles, we hold out hope of the eagles. Humans enter the story when a well-meaning but uninformed couple living near Mt. Storm Lake break US Federal law by feeding the eagles with scraps from a local abattoir.

“I was as thrilled as I could ever remember being,” Michael writes about his first siting of a pair of fledglings looking out over the top of their enormous nest. Michael is a character in Eagles Over Canaan as much as his broad-winged subjects. We follow along with both as he writes:

“The journey from hatchling to fledgling would be fraught with foodless days, blowing snow, freezing rain, and attacks by owls, hawks, and bears. But there also would be pleasant days when parents and eaglets had stomachs filled with fish, the sun was warm, and breezes blew out of the south. There would be days when white billowy clouds drifted across a pale blue sky when new-born fawns played in meadows of goldenrod and when newly-hatched turkey poults chased grasshoppers through blueberry patches.”

There is a happy ending for 2022’s nestlings. What about eagles over Canaan in 2024? Last week when I visited the refuge office I noticed that someone had written on the white-board just inside the vestibule door that they had sighted a bald eagle. There is hope.


Pages: 102