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Archive for Monday, January 28, 2008

Soaring to new heights

Eagles Day celebrates symbol’s resurgence

January 28, 2008

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Audubon society celebrates Eagle's Day

Area residents got a bird's eye view of one of nature's most spectacular creatures on Sunday. Enlarge video

It's hard to imagine that the bald eagle, stoic symbol of the United States, was once on the brink of extinction. Thanks to a booming human population and widespread use of the chemical DDT, bald eagles struggled to survive for many years in the 20th century.

But today, the bird is thriving once again, and the Jayhawk Audubon Society's Kaw Valley Eagles Day was a celebration of the bald eagle's resurgence. The 12th annual festival was Sunday at Free State High School and featured not only the majestic eagle but many of its flying friends as well.

"When we started, the eagles were at the lowest point, in terms of survival," said Jayhawk Audubon Society board member Ed Shaw, whose organization was founded in 1970. "It was a disaster. It had gotten down to something like 2,000 eagles" in the United States. Experts estimate there were as many as 50,000 bald eagles in the lower 48 states when the bird was named the country's national symbol in 1782.

But thanks to efforts by the government and organizations like the Audubon Society, bald eagles number close to 30,000 today.

Eagles Day drew a hearty crowd, which hovered around Parks and Recreation department employees holding falcons, owls and even a vulture. Many conservation organizations, such as Save the Wetlands, promoted their environmentally friendly messages. Children mingled at an arts and crafts table, and many created their own eagles out of clothespins and paint.

Eagles Day also included eagle-viewing jaunts throughout the day, where visitors scoured the land around Clinton Lake for the birds.

A curious crowd of about a dozen small children huddled about a large turkey vulture, perched on the arm of Tasha Schultz. Schultz, a naturalist at the Prairie Park Nature Center, described the bird - named Thor - and his eating habits and defense mechanisms. The bird's defense of vomiting its food was enough to scrunch the faces of several grossed-out onlookers.

Schultz said all the birds at the nature center come from rehabilitation clinics across the country.

"We want to raise the awareness of not only the eagles, but also to raise the awareness of the other birds in Kansas," she said. "You know they see them on the side of the road, but they don't know them."

Kay Coombs, Chanute, was chaperoning her three grandchildren, who have come to Eagles Day the last three years.

"The kids love the activities, and we enjoy going out in nature to see the eagles," she said. Coombs, a recently retired kindergarten teacher, said she often used knowledge she learned at Eagles Day to incorporate into her lesson plan.

Mike Watkins, a wildlife biologist for the Army Corps of Engineers, spoke to the crowd about eagle populations in Kansas. He said bald eagles are thriving in the state today, with 49 eaglets being hatched in the last year.

He said Eagles Day takes place this time of year to showcase the thousands of bald eagles that migrate to the region from the Dakotas, making this perfect eagle-watching season.

"The bald eagle is a tremendous success story," Watkins said. "If we're conscientious, we can do things to help the environment, and as a result, wildlife will benefit and flourish."

Comments

MJG 6 years, 11 months ago

LJWorld - Way to go on continuing to tout the Bald Eagle - DDT myth: http://junkscience.com/fox/milloy070706.htm

Horace 6 years, 11 months ago

What a coincidence. There was a bald eagle flying around 6th and Wakarusa this morning. First time I had ever seen one that far from the river.

Sean Livingstone 6 years, 11 months ago

MJG,

Do "junkscience.com" award Nobel Prize? Or do they run the National Science Academy?

To me, these junk scientists are all "losers" on the mainstream sciences, who then turn to big corporations to do "junk" sciences and earn more money along the way. Good scientists are generally not rich.

mmiller 6 years, 11 months ago

Great! Bald eagles rock!! If only I could afford to purchase the camera and zoom lens needed to capture these majestic birds. I have a little Kodak 12x zoom. I captured a couple Bald Eagles at Perry Lake a couple weekends ago.

Does anyone have any tips for photgraphing these birds? It's very difficult to get descent shots. It's incredible how well they can detect intruders. They immediately fly off when you try to get close enough for pix, etc.

MJG 6 years, 11 months ago

The ad hominem attacks on the Milloy article are amusing...rather than debating/discussing any of the science, people just rip on the website. Good stuff.

Why the prominent placement of the DDT affects and the downplaying of the more significant impacts the hunting and other factors that led to the population decline?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 years, 11 months ago

Well, this is just observations from an old lady, not pure science, but DDT was a ripoff insecticide, and killed a lot of birds. I remember being made to come in the house when the city trucks came through spraying that poison. I remember quite well that I still got bit by mosquitos often, so I didn't see the point. On the other hand, my husband and I get all excited when we see so many eagles or a huge flock of geese. When we were growing up, I thought eagles didn't even live in Kansas. You would see small flocks of geese, but not the huge groups we see now. How do these junk (read fake) scientists explain this? I don't need any scientist to tell me what I see, and life is better without DDT, unless you hate birds.

MJG 6 years, 11 months ago

"Life is better without DDT".

Life in Kansas may well be since you get to see more of your cute birds (largely as a result of conservation and new regulations on hunting, not necessarily the eradication of DDT use).

Life in Africa and other developing nations has suffered greatly as a result of the ban on DDT. Malaria - a mosquito-borne illness was all but erradicated by DDT. Once DDT was banned, malaria surged back, since killing millions.

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