Public invited to view, learn more about America's national bird
PRATT -- With the arrival of winter, bald eagles have been migrating into Kansas. This provides bird watchers a number of opportunities to observe this magnificent avian predator. To improve such opportunities, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks -- in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, local Audubon chapters, and other civic organizations -- has scheduled a number of "Eagle Days" at several locations.

The U.S. national bird may be observed in its native habitat at Tuttle Creek Reservoir, where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has scheduled an Eagle Day for Saturday, Jan. 7, from 9 a.m. to noon. The program is free and open to the public. Participants will meet at 9 a.m. in the large assembly room at the Manhattan Fire Station on the corner of Denison and Kimball streets. Dan Mulhern, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will offer a short presentation on the nesting habits of bald eagles in Kansas. Pat Silovsky, director of the Milford Nature Center near Junction City, will then show a live bald eagle and discuss eagles and other raptors.

Following the presentations at the fire station, members of the Northern Flint Hills Audubon Society will take participants on a bus tour downstream of Tuttle Creek Dam to look for bald eagles in the wild. All participants should dress for cold weather, and everyone is encouraged to bring binoculars, spotting scopes, and cameras.

For more information on Tuttle Creek Eagle Days, contact Steve Prockish at the Corps of Engineers office, 785-539-8511, ext. 13.

Other Eagle Days events are scheduled at the following locations:

  • Clinton Reservoir on Jan. 22, phone 785-842-8562;
  • Lawrence Riverfront on Jan. 22, phone 785-842-0475;
  • Milford Reservoir on Jan. 14-15, phone 785-238-5714;
  • Perry Reservoir on Jan. 23, phone 785-246-3449; and
  • Wilson Reservoir on Feb. 11, phone 785-658-2465.

The Lawrence event will be held at the Douglas County Fairgrounds from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. At Clinton Reservoir, the Corp of Engineers will be giving eagle viewing tours on Jan. 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The tours will begin at the Clinton Lake Corps Project Office with a short eagle discussion before traveling to Clinton State Park to view the eagles.

Milford Reservoir will be conducting its 17th Annual Eagle Days on Jan. 14 and 15. Activities for both days are open to the public and free of charge. The program will be held at the Milford Nature Center, located below the Milford Dam. Each day there will be speakers, live bird presentations, and free bus trips to observe bald eagles in the wild.

The live bird presentations will include both bald and golden eagles from the Prairie Park Nature Center in Lawrence. Both birds were injured and cannot be returned to the wild. A biologist from the Corps of Engineers will give updates on Kansas nesting bald eagles, and additional presentations will cover raptors and owls of Kansas.

The Milford event will also include a heated tent with hands-on activities, including a life-sized eagle nest. In addition, Milford State Park will be offering Free Park Entrance Days on Jan. 14 and 15. During this weekend, anyone can enter through the state park without paying vehicle entrance fees (camping fees are still required). Two back access roads -- the dirt road that leads into Rush Creek or Sail Boat Cove from U.S. Hwy. 77 and the southern end of Lower Budden Road -- will be closed. This will keep traffic out of the area during bald eagle viewing times. The roads will close Saturday, Jan. 14 at 10 a.m. and re-open on Sunday, Jan. 15 at 5 p.m.

Other Eagle Days may be scheduled in the future. For more information, contact the nearest office of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.