Spirit, a disabled bald eagle, was one of the stars of Kaw Valley Eagles Day.
He wasn't alone in the attention department during Sunday's event at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds. Other attractions included Gracie, a barred owl; Tweetie, an American kestrel; and Violet, an opossum that spent the afternoon sleeping despite frequent tail-petting by visitors.
The sixth-annual event drew more than 700 people to the fairgrounds, and the animals received most of the attention.
"The kids really seemed drawn to the wildlife," said Pam Chaffee, member of the Jayhawk Audubon Society and the Eagles Day committee.
Spirit was injured two years ago and is missing his right wing, said Pat Silovsky, director of the Milford Nature Center at Milford Lake. The 8-pound bird now gives people a chance for an up-close view of America's most famous raptor.
"He was recovered along a roadside," Silovsky said. "We're pretty sure he was hit by a car."
Spirit is just one of the many eagles that have been calling Kansas home during the past few years. Eagles began nesting in Kansas again in 1989, Silovsky said, and now there are 12 active nests in the state.
Though the event is called Eagles Day, 21 exhibitors displayed a variety of information on wildlife, the environment and government programs dealing with water quality and recycling. Five speakers gave presentations on prairies, snakes and Kansas birds of prey. The Thunderbird Theatre from Haskell Indian Nations University ended the day with a performance of "Songs of Life," a series of Native American creation stories with a coyote as the main character.
Colin Bain, 9, Lawrence, came to Eagles Day with Cub Scout Pack 3072. He was particularly interested in the Prairie Park Nature Center table, which had the opossum, animal pelts and even the Kansas state amphibian, the barred tiger salamander.
"It's been fun," said Bain, as he felt the scaly texture of the opossum's tail.
Chaffee said Eagles Day had been growing in popularity every year.
"We've been really impressed with the turnout," she said. "And the weather cooperated."