Historically, American Bald Eagles were plentiful along major river systems and coastal areas throughout eastern Virginia. Here they fed from bountiful shallows of a vast tidal system and prospered. However, habitat loss associated with human settlement, and later the use of persistent pesticides such as DDT for crop management, resulted in a dramatic decline in the population. By the late 1960’s most breeding populations had been decimated by eggshell thinning and associated low productivity. Concern for these populations prompted the elevation of the bald eagle to endangered status and led to a national effort to restore historic populations. In Virginia, the breeding population has steadily increased from an estimated low of 32 breeding pairs in the late 1960’s to 151 pairs in 1993, and today to nearly 700 pairs.
In recent years, a small part of the bald eagle breeding population has begun to move into urban areas, having become habituated to all our human activites and sounds. The bald eagle pair at Norfolk Botanical Garden are an example of this change in their behavior. The Norfolk Botanical Garden bald eagle pair have been extraordinarily productive – 19 eaglets in eight years at NBG and one eaglet at their prior nest. Only one other pair in Virginia are known to have been as productive. This lady leaves all of us with a legacy that will carry on for many years into the future.
Beautiful captures of a great lady. Thank you Mr. Lukei – there are no words.
Thanks Reese for the beautiful photo of our beautiful lady. She certainly was loved by so many. I hope all her 19 babies will lead long lives and add to the growth of the eagle population. Just think if 19 babies each had just 1 chick a year for 10 years that is 190 eagles added to the population – now that is a legacy!!!!
What a legacy from our Mom!! Thank you for post, while sad it has also made me smile.
Thank you, Mr. Lukei
Beautiful pictures of a very Grand lady indeed! Miss you “Mama”
Beautiful photos, beautiful sentiment. Thank you Mr. Lukei. The Lady is missed.
Legacy Lady…. a fitting name for our beautiful Momma. Thank you Reese. Our tears will someday dry, and her legacy will live on.
Soar high our beloved Momma. Your Eaglets are now the “World’s Eaglets” Well done. You life not only provided the world with so many new Eagles you taught so humans so much. We mourn but also celebrate your life and memory.
Beautiful photos. Thank you for all the work you do and for helping us move forward from this tragedy.
Legacy Lady, Mama Norfolk, Our Lady of the Garden. So many beautiful names for such a magnificent creature. Who knew one wild raptor could touch the world’s heart and cause so many tears to flow at her passing. God speed Lady, we will watch over your babies and you mate and make them as safe as humanly possible. We will be ever mindful of the lessons you taught us.
She was a beauty, a strong and tender mother and a perfect partner for her handsome, hard-working mate. The two are examples to us humans to live our lives with purpose and focus – setting aside time for couple bonding, too. I’m so grateful that they produced many offspring to carry on their tradition. It has been a privilege to know them, albeit from a distance. Their eagle people are grieving now but have hope for the future for the male and eaglets, and the great eagle race. Thank you, Reese.
Thank you so much for this beautiful tribute to a truly magnificant eagle. She will long be remembered for her gentle touch with her babies, her stubbornness with her mate when it came to feeding those babies, and her regal presentation when just sitting on a tree limb. I never knew it was possible to love a bird so much.
Reese, my heart had just calmed down; now I’m seeing those stunning tribute “Legacy Lady” and I’m all choked up again. Thank you for all you do and for sharing your knowledge and your eagle heart.
So well done Mr. Lukei! This family became part of me and although Mom is gone her legacy will live on thru her three chicks.
Thank you for the two beautiful pictures of our Great Lady. Mom is so missed.
Also thanks for the article. She has left her mark.
And last but not least, thank you for all the work you do.
Thank You Dr. Lukei for this information and all you do for these wonder creatures. This pair has certainly captured the hearts of the world and just as quickly broken our hearts as well… How difficult this week has been, especially for those as close as yourself. I hope you will directly be involved, if possible, in the care and release of the eaglets. You have become our voice of the eagles and our trust in you is immense. Thank you again and heart felt condolences..
She was so beautiful, and inspired love from so many people. Thank you for these photos, and for this post.
A beautiful tribute to this bald eagle and bald eagles everywhere!!
Thank you, Mr. Lukei, for all you have done. This is absolutely beautiful and much appreciated. We shall always remember this lovely lady.
Thank you, Reese, for this beautiful blog entry. It was my first eagle cam season and was assumed to be of many, but I have learned so much from you, the Mod Squad, NBG, Steve and now Ed and WCV staff. I took this tragedy VERY HARD and only two people understood what this eagle family meant to me – my mother and my best friend.. and I had only been watching since the birth of Tuesday (NX). It must have been even more heart breaking for you Reese, I know you’ve studied this family for almost a decade – probably longer. I hope a quick healing for you Mr. Lukei!
My husband has been an “eagle lover” for as long as I have known him. I, however, recently fell madly in love with the NBG eagles and eaglets. In the small amount of time I had the privilege to watch them, they gave me immense joy. I also feel immense sadness with the recent events. I will, however, strive to learn more and I will volunteer my time and give resources to keeping them safe. I pray the male will bring a new mate to the garden this fall.
Reese, you have put it all into perspective. From a scientifc standpoint, our female did more than her share for the eagle population.
From an emotional standpoint, she provided us all with a piece of nature to love and admire.
I wish only the best for the male and for the three new eaglets in their lives ahead.
Thanks Reese. Will the eaglets consider Norfolk as their natal area? Or will their “compass” point to Waynesboro? Does the natal area get defined as the place where they fledge if it’s different than where they hatched? Does this warrant new consideration of putting a transmitter on one of them? Thanks!
Response – Natal area is where they are hatched. The eaglets may have “imprinted” on their natal area by now. Only time will tell where they eventually settle. That is one of the principal reasons and benefits of giving them ID bands. Re: transmitter, perhaps but not sure about that yet.
awww Reese isn’t she just spectacular ? I am so sorry for all of us and in particular – you. The love for this Eagle Family shines like a bright light on your face every time you speak of them – but nothing like when you are holding 1 of them. Our Mom is truly special to thousands of people and she resides forever in our hearts and memories. I feel so blessed that she shared her Family with us year after year. I have seen no greater love than I saw with Mom, Dad and all of their babies. Fly free Mom and we will miss you and remember you always. So sorry for your loss Reese . God bless our Dad and babies♥
Mr. Lukei, thank you for a beautiful post.
Thank you Reese. We loved her and she will be missed.
One of my wishes was to see an American Bald Eagle one day. I was so excited to have been sent a link to the Norfolk eagles and to observe them everyday so up close and personal. They are truly amazing animals and the short amount of time I spent observing Lady Legacy and her family has made quite an impact on me and so many others. Maybe that is her legacy, to open our minds to such glorious creatures. Thank you for all the work you and others do to protect our wildlife.
Thank you so very much and sincere condolences in the loss to you of our wonderful lady. I’ve only watched since the babies were all here and in the “bowl.” However, I’ve gotten so attached, especially to the adults because of there interaction with each other and their babies. They worked so well together and were so different in their personalities. She was the Mama, caring for her babies, particular about them. He was the Provider, the one who maintained the “home.” (See, I’m humanizing.) It broke my heart to lose her. I love to remember what a good, caring, gentle Mama she was and to remember things like her “bad hair” day. I sigh as the tears well. I love where the babies are and that Dad appears to be, hopefully, recovering. Thank you again.
Thank you Reese. I have hung on your every word for 5 years. You and the cam have been a part of my daily existence every winter. I have always envied your interaction with the eagles, and sad as this time is, I still do.
Thank you Mr. Lukei. I’m so relieved to see you posting again, for you knew Mom best of all. We’re blessed by all that you do, and the world is a much better place.
Thank you, Reese. This brings the tears again. I have learned so much from this eagle family this year, and from all of you who have been so dedicated to them. I, too, hope to someday soon see an American Bald Eagle living in the wild! I hope you will keep us updated on Papa Norfolk. I worry about him. God Bless.
I’ve been trying to find out, Reese, if there’s a possibility of naming our lovey lady eagle. I know she’s wild and wild eagles aren’t named unless they are in captivity or wearing a monitor, like Azalea and Camilla.
You’ve addresses her as “Legacy Lady.” Is this going to get to be her name? She so deserves on.
Mr. Lukei, what a gift you and all the others have given us. I fell in love with the eagles last year and was elated when I got the notification that it was back up again this year. Watching our beautiful family and reading the discussion has taught me so much – thanks are not enough. I haven’t cried this much in years, but the tears are worth the joy I’ve been given through our eagles and all of you. This is indeed a beautiful tribute to a beautiful lady who will be forever in my heart.
I have been so touched by the beauty of this female eagle and the gentleness that she showed in caring for her babies. This has been a difficult time for all but I know that she is watching from above.
Thank you, Reese for your wonderful posts and your absolute love of this family.
Thank you for your beautiful post and photos.
She will be forever in my heart.
Without you and others who devote their lives to protecting wildlife, we would never have had this privilege of loving these great eagles.
I can never, ever thank you, the NBG, CCB, the Mods, Nuckols, and everyone else involved enough for these past 3 years that I have been watching and learning. You have provided more information and education on these majestic birds than I could ever have hoped for, all at the touch of a button and a computer screen. Because of you I have found a love for these raptors and never want to stop learning about them. I am forever grateful. Thank-you. I will miss our beautiful Legacy Lady, but I am so happy that I got to witness at least a small part of what she has left for the world. What a grand bird she was, indeed! May her offspring be every bit as wonderful.
Oh thank you Dr. Lukei, what beautiful photos that capture her personality. I agree with the name Legacy Lady, how appropriate. I’ll never forget her. Thank you so much for being there for all of us in your time of sadness. But we can rejoyce now knowing that her eaglets will soar one day.Im over joyed that I can once agin begin my day and end it with live views of the precious babies.Thanks to NBG, WLC, Knuckols Tree service, and all the mods for caring and understanding. You all are loved and appreciated by all the cyber families. God bless….
Thanks it says all – she left a large hole in our hearts dying young 🙁
We love you Mom. We’ll help keep watch.
Thank you Mr. Reese for this beautiful tribute to the “First Lady” of the Gardens. Thank you for all you have done for these majestic national symbols.
Mr. Reese, NBG, my heart is heavy with the news that Legacy Lady was a fatality of a plane incident.
I have been a viewer of WV eagle cam since the beinning and every litter of eaglettes inspired and awed me. Lady was the kindest, genteliest, and
beautiful mom ever. I pray that her mate will come back to the nest in 2012 with a new mate and a new beginning. My prayers are with the chicks who I hope will make a successful flight into
maturity. Thank you and your stall for the work that you do. God Bless Legacy Ldy & her Family.
Thank you Reese! I have always wanted to visit the Gardens and see her in eagle person and never had the opportunity and now my biggest regret is not doing just that. Sometimes life gets in our way and so I move on but at least I personally have had five wonderful seasons with them and of course 2011, tragic as it is. God bless you!
Reese, thank you for the beautiful tribute to our “Legacy Lady”. A very fitting name for her. The pictures you shared are wonderful and certainly show her beauty. I know how hard this week has been for you as I know how much this pair mean to you. I pray that Dad will bring his new mate back to NBG to carry on the legacy.
I can not put into words how much grief I’ve felt this week and it must be even harder for you. I’ve cried till I think there are no more tears and they just keep coming. What a lovely name you gave our girl,Legacy Lady. It’s perfect and she was prefect! I’ve watch these eagles since the 2007 season. They were the perfect eagle couple. Thanks for all your hard work and dedication to these beautiful birds. I know so much about eagles now that I would have never known if not for you and the others involved. My big concern now is daddy eagle. My heart just breaks for him. Please keep us informed on his well being. I know the chicks are going to be fine. Thanks for the most beautiful pictures of our girl…probably the best I’ve seen.
I am a first year eagle watcher of your site and a couple others and was devastated at the death of Legacy Lady. She will be missed but will forever go on in her three eaglets. I can’t imagine what you have been going through this week and hope your heart will heal soon. Thanks for all you do to educate us about these amazing eagles.
Thank you so much Reese, for this tribute, all you do and for your amazing love for our beautiful eagle parents and their eaglets. The twinkle you get in your eyes warms our hearts and is truly priceless. I loved the picture of you holding ND? from last year after he had fallen in the canal at NBG. This tragedy has hit all of us so hard and has been such a heartbreaking experience. My heart especially goes out to you, dear Reese. Having to identify our Mama must have been the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do, but you are the one, besides God, that knows every feather on our beautiful Mom and Dad. I know our eaglets will be well taken care of at WCV, because they are amazing, and the decision was the best for their survival and for Dad’s health and future. NBG is his territory and I truly think he will find another mate in the Fall, and remain in the area. Mama lost her mate in the same area, remained there, found our handsome male, and raised 19 eaglets. There’s hope. Hugs to you Reese. You are an amazing man, we all love you so much, and our hearts go out to you. 🙂
Thanks, Reese! Legacy Lady was my own personal hero and I sure will miss her, as well as watching the family interaction. I was surprised at the grief I felt when I heard about the tragedy, and so I know it must be difficult for you, too. It’s great to see the eaglets are doing fine and Ed Clark is good at helping us come back down to earth. Anyway, thanks for helping us all through the healing process, and I hope you are also feeling better.
There aren’t enough Thank You’s in the world to say how much I appreciate what you’ve done for the NBG eagles and others as well…but a simple THANK YOU will have to do.
Beautiful tribute! I’m still in tears every time I think about our “Legacy Lady”. Thank you for this!
Hello Reese. I had the pleasure of meeting you last year when the chicks were beginning to hatch. While I was standing next to you, you said “look, that’s the male coming in w/the (first) chicks first meal”. Having been the first time for me to see a bald eagle in the wild, let alone flying right above me with a fish in his talons, it is an experience I will never forget. Afterwords I found out the active role you take to the NBG eagle pair and their reproduction. Frequently on the two chat rooms, I have gained a knowledge possible only through you, the wonderful mod squad, the viewers (many of whom i can refer to as friends) and all the entities that have brought the eaglecam to the world. After having the unexpected tragedy befall our beautiful female, our “group” was shocked and saddened beyond belief. While consoling and comforting eachother, we waited for your response and guidance, with a respect and concern for your grief. You honor to Legacy Lady is a very special rememberence to “the group”. Thank you Reese, I find comfort in your words. Now that the eaglets have their 5th avenue digs and we have gained more to our already devoted crew, I feel a sense of peace knowing all that this Lady has bestowed to the world. You are a wonderful man Reese. My heart goes out to you with the sincerest sympathy. Please feel the beat. Mary Young Detroit Michigan
God Bless you Reese….You too must be devasted. I read this tribute to ” our eagle mama” and I’m sobbing again. They both worked so hard to keep these three alive and losing her is so hard. I hope they had time enough to teach them all they need to know. Hopefully they will learn to fly and hunt and be a tribute to their Mom. I just wonder if they would recognize their dad if they saw him in the garden. I would think he had a smell that they might recognize if they got close enough. It would be nice if he knew that they lived. His little heart must be broken!
I’ve scrolled thru all of the above comments and echo every one of them, Reese. All I can add is that I sent a donation check to CCB, so critical is their mission to our (suffering) planet.
Jean Denver CO
Response – Thank you
Thank you Reese, This has been an experience for me one I will never forget. She was a beautiful
lady and I loved her so much. She was a legacy to be sure. I wish all mothers could be like her. Oh how beautiful she was.
Dear Mr. Lukei,
It has all been said on this page but I’d like to add that this page which is your tribute to Legacy Lady has also become a tribute to you and all you do for the eagles and other raptors. You are loved by many for all you do.
I have the first picture of Mama as my wallpaper. She is so beautiful that I can’t still believe it.
Legacy Lady. What a Beautiful name you chose for Mom Eagle, so appropriate. The photos here of her are absolutely breathtaking. I will always remember her looking just like that as she was while caring for her Family. Thank you so much for everything you do for Leagacy Lady, Dad Eagle, & their Precious Family. You are a real Hero. My heart truly goes out to you. Thank you again. God Bless You & Yours.
Thank you, Reese!
Thanks to all for everything that’s been done to help us thru this hard and heartbreaking time. Never would I have thought I would have gotten so heartbroken over the loss of a fine family of birds. The babbies are doing fine I know, and I try and remember that Dade will also be fine. I would rather he left the area tho so nothing like this happens to him.
Dear Mr. Lukei,
I agree with the previous post in that this page is also a tribute to you. Through you, and NBG, the world was able to know and love this majestic eagle mother, Legacy Lady. She gave us many, many hours of enjoyment and touched our hearts through her gentle care of her eaglets. Thank you.
What a beautiful tribute to a lady that touched the hearts of thousands around the world. Thanks to you and the wonderful people at the WCV, I know her eaglets will soon be soaring the skies as their father does now. I look forward to hearing from you that dad is still being spotted soaring above the beautiful NBG and to watching him with a new family, as I’m sure he will be, on the cam next season. I’ve loved eagles all my life and this family and this lovely lady touched my heart as I never thought possible.
Reese, thank you for this tribute. I appreciate it more than words can tell.
What a gorgeous creature this Lady was. How she and her mate and their family have captured the hearts of millions of us out here in Cyberland. You and all involved have given us the oppertunity to see something very special. This is my first year watching this, but it didnt take me long to fall head over heals in love with these eagles. I was planning a trip to the Gardens for the beginning of June, new camera, beautiful flowers and this family. Now, my heart is broken and I just dont know. I am still sooo sooo concerned about dad. I had finially stopped crying when someone posted that sequence of him in the nest by himself and flying off. I just wish there was a way to keep him and those kids together. But anyway, THANK YOU VERY Much Mr. Lukei. Thank you for taking care of our favorite mom in the end. Thank you for posting such beautiful Photos of her and your comments. I agree. Legacy Lady should be her name. I now find my self constantly looking skyward, hoping to see an eagle sore. I will get to see one someday I hope. Thank You.
Thankyou Mr Lukei for the information and the wonderful history of our mom and dad NBG eagles.
Mom was a beautiful and proud eagle but you are right she leave a miraculous legacy and she will be missed by people from the entire world.
Thanks to WCV for caring for her 3 babies and we hear dad will be ok.
my heart has been thinking of you too Reese. i have learned so much from you all. thank you for sharing your knowledge and compassion. wildlife forever. godspeed.
Reese that is wonderful news 32 breeding pairs to 700 breeding pairs.. It is nice to know that Legacy’s Lady eagles are out there and she will live forever through them. She was a BEAUTIFUL Eagle and I loved how gentle she was when feeding her wee little eaglets. I am so sorry for your loss. I just started watching the eagles this year and my heart broke when I heard the news. I cannot imagine what you and others must have felt that have been watching her for years. Thanks for all that you do..
I can’t thank you enough for the beautiful pictures of our Momma Eagle. I have learned so much about eagles from you and have enjoyed watching her and Dad eagle raise their adorable babies. I miss her terribly but I am so glad that the WCV is here to take care of her eaglets. I hope and pray the male will stay in the gardens and find a new mate and we can watch them raise more eagles. Thank you again for all you do.
Thank you so much for this beautiful tribute. I have so enjoyed watching this beautiful lady and her mate in their nest tending to the eggs and young. From their delicate turning of the eggs to the feeding of the young and housekeeping of the nest.
I have learned so much from all of you; and I continue to follow “our babies”. Thanks also on the updates on Dad.
My heart just ached and the tears flowed with the loss of the Mama Eagle. She was a great Mother to her babies and may she rest in peace.
Mr. Lukei, I know so many people have been involved with our Garden eagles. I don’t know where to start to thank them all. I have especially relished the photos and webcam and your dedication to the cause. Our beautiful girl can never be replaced. I look forward to seeing her at the garden as part of the education there. I wish we could have a small portion of garden set aside as a Garden of Eagles with benches in the round surrounding a bronze eagle statue in honor of them all. Just a quiet place to reflect on the great joy they bring to us.
OUR LADY OF THE GARDEN
April 26, 2011
The Great Spirit whispered to her,
Your time here is done my child
I will take you to your spirit home
You have been freed of the bonds to Mother Earth
And you will be lifted up on the wings of the Creator
You have honored this world with your many children
You shall live on in them as long as the rivers flow
Your spirit, your courage, your wisdom, your legacy
Has been given to them so they may soar on the winds
And awaken the spirits in the mortals below
Your destiny was written with your first breath of life
Your journey is now over; it is time to come home.
Reese, I am so glad to hear you are feeling better. I wish you peace in your loss. I wanted to share a legacy of my own with you and your beloved Legacy Lady. My brother passed from this existence in December. I began watching this eagle family in early March. Legacy Lady gave me so much peace and hope for this world. In watching her every day and every evening, my heart was filled with joy and hope. She lessened my own mourning with her kind and gentle way. Now that she is gone, I feel united with this eagle family and their extended world family. Legacy Lady gave me hope and helped me at a most difficult time in life. I will never, ever forget her and how she touched my own life. God Bless you and your lovely lady. May she soar higher than ever and rest in God’s loving care!
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
“Legacy Lady” Truly beautiful and appropriate.
Thank you, Reese.
Evelyn Pignataro, Your poem is majestic and poignant. Thank you for a moving commemoration. And bless you, Bobbi of Louisville, for alerting us to it on the Eagle Cam page. This cyber-family hovering in air, as it were, around the eagle family is civil, intelligent, warm, and a fine expression of humanity. I glow in its warmtn.
Thank you so much Reese.
A truly beautiful eagle; a truly beautiful name.
A truly sad day for us all.
We were all truly blessed to know her.
Couldn’t bring myself to see this blog until today…still so sad, but Reese, your sadness must be overwhelming at times. Thanks for the beautiful pics of momma- she will never be forgotten. Joy to see the babies dong well- hope dad is too. We’ll be teaching our students much about man’s effects on wildlife.
Just like the rest of our worldwide “eagle family” I have shed many tears over the loss of Legacy Lady. She epitomized all that was good about nature. She is missed, her babies are loved, dad will move on and the appreciation for our educators & moderators is endless!
Reese, you have been heavy in my heart since last Tuesday. How hard this must have been for you over the past week. I look for you at every important event with our Norfolk eagle families. Thank you for all you and your organization does for our precious eagles and conservation. I hope to meet you some day. I never doubted the decision made regarding placement of our nestlings. It was the very best choice. They are doing so well. So many are comforted by that. And such a comfort to know that dad is around in “his” Garden. God Bless you, Reese
I loved the tribute poem. Here is a favorite of mine.
“Everything the Power of the World does, is done in a circle. The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are the stars. The Wind, in it’s greatest power Whirls.
Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The Sun comes forth in a circle. The Moon does the same and both are round. Even the seasons form a cirlce in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The Life of man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and it is with everything where Power moves.”
Black Elk-Oalada Sioux 1863-1950
Thinking of “Mama” Stess
I have watched in wonder
her grace in flight
Felt her fierce joy is soaring high
and her delight in a deep dive
Marveled at her tenderness to chick and mate
And hunched in sympathy against the storm
Now she has gone, has left our view
away from our concerns and cares
High above all storms and strife
still she soars and still she drives
I hope her joy is fully clear
The wing of her has touched my life
What beautiful pictures of Legacy Lady. Just when I think I am all cried out, the waterworks start all over again. I have followed this family for 4 years and miss mom and dad dearly. Fortunately, there are many good (and silly) memories too. Hopefully, at some point, the good memories will overtake the tragic ones. My sincere condolences to you and everyone involved with these majestic birds. May you have peace in knowing what fantastic work you have done to promote the Eagles cause. My thoughts and prayers are with you. PEACE.
I am from Rhode Island and have been watching this beautiful family. I was so sad when I heard the terrible news of mom eagle. I cried for days so I can understand how all f you there must have felt. She was a wonderful mother and a great mate. I am sure everyone misses her because I know I do. I still worry about the father. I hope he dose well and has a good life.
My thoughts and prayers are with all of you and keep up the good work.
Thank you Mr. Lukei. A beautiful tribute to a majestic creature. Her legacy will live on through her offspring.