Spotting a bald eagle in Kansas usually means a trip to a lake or river, but Sunday it will require only a trip to Free State High School.
The 11th Annual Kaw Valley Eagles Day will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Free State, 4700 Overland Drive, with guided tours of eagle nesting sites at Clinton Lake at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. The event at Free State will include events each hour between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., culminating with a demonstration of live eagles by the Prairie Park Nature Center at 3 p.m.
Other events will be sponsored by state and local conservation and environmental organizations.
Organizers are expecting about 1,000 people to show up to the free event, said Joyce Wolf, one of the event's planners.
"We've been told there are lots of other eagle days," she said. "But ours is the only one that brings in other groups."
The Eagles Day events are designed to familiarize people with and promote bald eagles and environmental awareness. Locally, the first was held in 1997. Nationally, the EPA recognizes Bald Eagle Days each year during August, but the Lawrence event is designed to coincide with the eagles' presence in the community.
The Jayhawk Audubon Society organizes the event along with several co-sponsors, including the Kansas University Natural History Museum, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Prairie Park Nature Center. Wolf expects about 25 groups to have tables and displays.
A popular theme among some of the presenters will be the cultivation of wind power and other forms of renewable resources.
Renewable resources have received a lot of attention already this year, as Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has included in her budget funding to encourage the development of wind power. On the national level, House Democrats have included funding for renewable energy in their "first 100 hours" initiative.
Other presentations will take on a decidedly less serious and more fun tone.
"It's almost a year-round process, planning the event," Wolf said. "There will be a lot of hands-on things for kids to do."
Among the hands-on exhibits will be one from Prairie Park Nature Center. The center's display will include a variety of wildlife, likely including a red-tailed hawk, barn owl, snakes and insects. Though they won't be on display until the special presentation at 3 p.m., Prairie Park also will be bringing a golden eagle and a bald eagle.
"We've been a part of this ever since we opened seven years ago," said Marty Birrell, Prairie Park director. In fact, "going to Eagle Day is what made us decide to get out our own eagles."
Birrell said visitors who'd previously come to Eagles Days would be surprised to see the center's bald eagle: It has grown most of its white feathers, she said.
The 5-year-old bird had just barely started to lose its brown and gray top feathers this time last year. Birrell said along with the change in head color the eagle had also grown much more vocal and territorial.
"She's a bird with a lot of attitude right now," Birrell said.
The event was previously held at the Douglas County 4-H Fairgrounds, but Wolf said she's excited about the new location, which will make it easier for visitors to get out on the eagle-watching field trips at Clinton Lake and then back to Free State.
Visitors to Clinton Lake, however, may have a hard time spotting eagles. Lee Kennedy, Clinton Lake Marina manager, said he hasn't seen many eagles lately.
"I see one occasionally. We have to have the shad die up and float up to the surface. Right now, you're only going to see an occasional" eagle, Kennedy said. The eagles feast on the dead shad as part of their winter diets.
In the event of bad weather, cancellations will be announced here at www.ljworld.com.