Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: The Holiday Season Is About Hope


On Saturday I received a wonderful photo from friend and colleague Chris Takacs. Chris was participating in the Christmas Bird Count and sent over a beautiful Christmas card like photo of two adult Bald Eagles on the snowy Passaic River.

As far as I was concerned this was the perfect holiday photo, something you print the family name on and mail to friends and relatives. It was majestic image if there ever was one. But it was much more than a nice photo. To me it was a symbol of hope and faith for the future of wildlife and the human spirit.

As I looked over the photo I could recall as a young boy growing up in the Meadowlands wondering if I would ever get to see a Bald Eagle. At times I would daydream of what it might be like to see the symbol of our country hunting over the rivers, lakes and meadows around my home.

In my wildest dreams I could never have imagined that today we would have more Bald Eagle nests in our area than we had in hundreds of years, an incredible success story worthy of any Christmas movie or holiday tale.

But in reality it was not a holiday miracle that brought back the Bald Eagle. It was people, highly ethical and hopeful people, working together at a time when the Eagle needed us most. It was a time when the water was too polluted, the environment full of toxins and the powers that be denying that preserving and protecting wildlife and their habitat had a place in the future of our country.

Yet enough good people did care, and had enough hope to work hard together despite social differences and party affiliations. We passed laws more than 40 years ago that allow us today to watch the eagle fly over its ancestral home, an experience that my father and his father never could have enjoyed in their lifetime.

I felt a wonderful hope in the photo of that eagle pair, hope in a bird that was considered lost, now back from the brink of extinction. Faith in a river that was once too polluted and given up on, now being cleaned up, and my strong inherent belief in a people that can do anything when they are needed the most to help our environment.

In that photo I saw confidence in the next generation that I know will stand up for all endangered species. I saw a joining of people from all walks of life driven by that amazing image; working together to ensure the eagles would be here to stay. I saw the strength and power of the Bald Eagle itself which when given half a chance survived despite the odds against it.

In those Eagles I felt the hope and the renewed faith that we all need in everyday life that gives us the strength to stand up for what is right.

No matter what religion, faith or belief you may have I have always thought the holiday season is ultimately about hope. Whatever you would like to call it, hope, faith, belief or optimism, this is a special time of year that we can search our souls, renew our spirit, and find inner strength. Just like the eagles in that special photo

Have a Great Holiday Season..see you in the Meadowlands

3 thoughts on “Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: The Holiday Season Is About Hope

  1. ZacBolenksdh

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  2. Jordan Moreno

    I have been following this pair since June 2021, they had two babies and both fledged ….can wait to see if i can take a picture of both of them together .


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