Seymour couple spend Christmas morning with bald eagles

A Seymour couple view their recent rare close encounter with two of America’s national birds as something akin to a message from God.

“The Indians call eagles aquilas and believe that they are messengers of God,” Jeremy Ponsler said. “We’re actually going to use the eagles as inspiration for the business we’re starting since she’s going to be staying home.”

The 32-year-old Ponsler, who lives on the west side of the city behind Seymour High School, was referring to his wife, Samantha Ponsler, 27. She is well on her way to having the couple’s first child and is not planning to go back to work.

On the morning of Christmas Day, Samantha let their small Yorkie, Romeo, outside.

“I was sitting on the couch playing with Christmas gifts,” Jeremy said.

Instead of heading to his normal spot to do his business, Romeo took off running and headed to a place in their backyard that the Ponslers are now calling “ground zero.”

That’s when Samantha spotted two birds tangled up and fighting on the ground making tweeting noises.

“They sounded like turkeys,” she said. “We were looking at them and I thought ‘What are we looking at?’”

Romeo ran to within a foot of the birds, which the Ponslers had determined by then were bald eagles.

Samantha said she called Romeo, and luckily, he came back, although the birds hadn’t take much notice of him anyway.

“They were holding onto each others talons,” Jeremy said. “I just didn’t expect to see them here.”

He said they had never seen any bald eagles in the area of their home in the past.

The couple first called central dispatch for the Indiana Conservation Officers at Paynetown but were told since it was Christmas Day that it might take awhile for an officer to arrive.

“Someone told us to throw a stick at them to try to scare them and they would separate and fly away,” Samantha said. “We did that, but they didn’t fly away.”

At one point, Jeremy said he tried to move to within 10 feet of the birds.

“They started freaking out,” he said. “I thought I was going to be tough.”

One of the two eagles was an adult, and the second was still a juvenile, Jeremy said.

“That one put the fear of God in me,” he said of the adult eagle’s size. “It was intense. It was an up-close encounter with nature, and nature wins.”

The two eagles would spend the next two and a half hours or so locked up in a battle and rolling across the Ponslers’ backyard.

At times, they would get tired and just lie around, Samantha said.

“We chilled and just watched them,” Jeremy said.

He said there were 10 people lined up along the fence on the east side of his property and probably another 20 along a fence on the north side of his property.

“We had a block party over here,” Jeremy said.

As conservation officers Rob Klakamp and Brad Barker showed up and walked into the backyard to investigate, the two eagles separated and flew their separate ways.

“I was closer to them (the bald eagles) than the conservation officers were,” Jeremy said.

He said he doesn’t know what made the eagles decide to stop.

Samantha said she thinks it might have been because there were a lot more people around by the time the conservation officers arrived.

Jeremy had a simpler explanation.

“They must have known they were the law,” he said of the arrival of the officers.

The Ponslers were told because eagles are territorial, they had likely gotten into a fight in the air, became locked together and fell to the ground. Most times, they separate, but for some reason, they didn’t this time.

“We’ve become experts on eagles now,” Jeremy said.

The eagles have not returned to their area since that morning, but they can hang around any time, Jeremy said.

Samantha said she never expected to find two bald eagles in her backyard.

“It’s crazy because what we like to do is drive around looking for eagles sometimes,” she said.

Jeremy said he blames his wife for the events of Christmas morning.

“You’ve been saying you want to see eagles,” he said to her.

After the birth of their child, Samantha plans to start a business making handmade items for wood for signs, engraving and home decor.