Pat Schmit was driving from her Waubeka home to the Feith Family Ozaukee YMCA in Saukville early Sept. 23 when a flash of white caught her eye.
She glanced at the Milwaukee River, where the sight of a mature bald eagle fishing and sunning stopped her in her tracks.
“‘Oh my God,’ that’s all I could say,” Schmit recalled. “I felt really blessed to see it. I kept arguing with myself, should I stay or should I go to the Y.
“All the way to the Y, I kept saying, ‘Oh my God.’”
Much to Schmit’s surprise, the eagle kept appearing in the river not far from her house.
“I could see it from my kitchen window,” Schmit said. “I kind of wonder how long he was there before I noticed him.”
She was even more surprised when, after calling Ozaukee Press photographer Sam Arendt to make pictures of the birds, Arendt pointed out a second eagle along the river.
“I didn’t know we had a pair,” Schmit said. “They were big. I never knew which I was seeing.”
She mentioned the birds to family members, who reported seeing two bald eagles soaring over Fredonia just days before she discovered them in the river, Schmit said.
The birds would typically spend the morning on the river fishing and relaxing, although one day Schmit noticed they were there from about 9 a.m. to 2:20 p.m.
Their favorite perch was in a dead deciduous tree, and they seemed to like spending time in a shallow area of the river near Schmit’s house, where the pair could easily see passing fish below.
She had previously seen osprey and blue herons fishing in that area of the river, and migrating ducks are common there, Schmit said, but she’s never seen an eagle there before.
“I never thought I would see anything like this. It was exciting,” she said. “This was just absolutely fabulous.”