Last year, a federal court ruled this Friday as the deadline for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the American Bald Eagle from the Endangered Species list, unless it could prove that a further delay was necessary.
Eagles certainly have made a comeback in numbers since being added to the List in 1967. In our Lake Barkley area, including all of the Land Between the Lakes, populations currently top 100 during the winter months, when migratory birds join our year-round nesting population in the quest for food and mates. Recent boat and van tour participants in Lake Barkley State Resort Park’s Eagle Watch Weekend counted adult and juvenile Eagles by the dozens!
“My husband told me to just look for them in the front yard,” said Laura Follis who went along on a recent Eagle van tour. Laura, who lives on Lake Barkley’s main channel, was among many area residents unaware that our national symbol, these majestic Bald Eagles, share the lakes area with us in such great number.
“I guess I’ve been seeing them for years;” Laura added. “I just didn’t know what to look for until I went out with the guides.”
Juvenile Bald Eagles, those younger than 4-5 years are often misidentified as hawks or vultures, as their mottled brown feathers don’t provide the image we’re used to seeing. This typical adult Bald Eagle look – that of a white head, white tail, and dark body - is not easily confused. Yet, unless our eyes are to the skies, we may miss them soaring high above or sitting camouflaged in the upper tree lines.
Although the State Parks have completed our Eagle events for the year, Land Between the Lakes continues to offer Eagle sighting tours through the end of the month. Take the time to go and see them – it will be at least next winter before they return in such large numbers.
And while you’re in the mood for birds, pay some attention to your bird feeders. February 16 also starts a 4-day national event known as the Great Backyard Bird Count. Co-sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, this 10th annual event allows all of us a chance to track visitors to our feeders and contribute to the data of current bird population and migration trends.
Event information is easily accessed at the Great Backyard Bird Count website, which includes species lists specific to your area, bird identification tips, statistics and stories last year’s counts, related classroom materials, and an easy-to-use process to submit your feeders’ numbers. Visit the site at http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/ and let the counting begin!
Keep watching the media for updates on next week’s news related to the Bald Eagle’s federal status, and feel free to contact me at Lake Barkley State Resort Park, 1-800-325-1708. Happy Birding!