Wichita Wildlife officials have confirmed a bald eagle is nesting along the Arkansas River in Sedgwick County, raising hopes the birds could be living in the area year-round.
Wildlife officials confirmed the existence of a nest after birder Jeff Calhoun of Derby spotted a bald eagle flying near the river carrying a stick.
Charlie Cope, a Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks district biologist, said there are no known historical records of bald eagles nesting successfully in Sedgwick County.
Bald eagles can be spotted along the Arkansas River in the winter. But usually they migrate north by the end of February or March.
The bald eagles recently have been staying year-round to raise their young in other Kansas locations.
Cope said bald eagles built a nest along the Ninnescah River near Viola in 1997, but abandoned it after several months.“Sometimes they build them in the winter, then just take off when they feel the urge,” said Bob Gress of the Great Plains Nature Center.
If the birds abandon the nest this year, they may return next winter and try to raise young.
Each winter, the birds migrate from the northern Great Lakes to Kansas lakes and rivers, where they search for open water, fish and waterfowl. When Kansas lakes freeze, they look for food along rivers, including the Arkansas River in downtown Wichita.