A rehabilitated bald eagle released here in December has stopped over at Clinton Lake after spending nearly three months at John Redmond Reservoir about 50 miles southwest of Lawrence.
Eva Willis, a volunteer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said she sighted the eagle Sunday above the Wakarusa River arm of Clinton Lake. Willis sighted the bird shortly after picking up a signal from a radio transmitter that had been placed on the eagle's tail.
The eagle was released Dec. 15, and Willis first picked up the bird's signal at John Redmond Reservoir on Dec. 26. The eagle was still at that reservoir when Willis checked its whereabouts on Feb. 29.
Dan Mulhern, endangered species biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Manhattan, said it won't be easy to predict the eagle's next move.
"Bald eagles have individual personalities. They respond differently to different situations," Mulhern said. "It is going to be real interesting to see what this bird does."
MULHERN SAID he's surprised at the large number of bald eagles to be found in Kansas this year. He said that with the mild winter, there are enough unfrozen bodies of water in Nebraska and South Dakota to provide eagles with plenty of fish and water fowl.
Even if the bald eagle sticks around Clinton, it probably will head north when the hot summer months arrive. Mulhern said other eagles that roost at Clinton have been known to leave for about six weeks during August and September.
Mulhern said it is believed that many eagles found in this region come from the Saskatchewan province in central Canada, in which case "they would be more accustomed to a more northerly climate."
The male bald eagle that Willis spotted Sunday was found injured in December 1990 near the southwest side of Melvern Lake in Osage County. The eagle could not fly when it was first taken to Wildcare, a Kansas University-based organization for wildlife rehabilitation and education that recently severed its ties with KU.
X-RAYS SHOWED the eagle had an arthritic "elbow" joint, which was hindering its ability to fly, Wildcare officials said. The X-ray also indicated the old injury was the result of a hairline fracture.
The eagle recovered with the help of an antibiotic.
The eagle is believed to be around 2 to 3 years old because it still has a dark head and tail. Bald eagles develop the characteristic white head and tail at age 4 or 5.
Willis said the U.S. Corps of Engineers office at Clinton Lake will continue to monitor the eagle.