December 19, 2013

Eagle days provide excellent opportunities to view majestic bald eagles

MANHATTAN – On Saturday, Jan. 4, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) at Tuttle Creek Lake will sponsor a free Eagle Day for the public to learn about and view bald eagles. This will mark the 26th year for this popular event at Tuttle Creek Lake.

The bald eagle was adopted as our national symbol in 1782. At that time, there were as many as 50,000 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states. However, in 1967 they were declared an endangered species because only about 2,000 birds remained with an estimated 417 nesting pairs. Since then, the population in the lower 48 states has rebounded remarkably to more than 35,000 birds and more than 10,000 nesting pairs. In fact, the bald eagle was removed from the Endangered Species List in 2007. A record 54 bald eagle nests were documented in Kansas last year.

The day will start at 9:00 a.m. at the Manhattan Fire station at Kimball and Denison with an overview of eagle nesting in Kansas. The program will include live hawks and owls and a mounted bald eagle.

The highlight of the morning will be a free bus tour to areas near Tuttle Creek Lake where knowledgeable bird watchers from the Northern Flint Hills Audubon Society will share information about eagles and help people view them. The Corps will furnish binoculars and spotting scopes. At one of the bus tour stops, watchers can view a large nest on an island in River Pond State Park.

This has been a popular program with an average attendance of 160 people the past several years, many of them youngsters fascinated by the birds.

Viewers should dress appropriately for the weather and bring binoculars and spotting scopes if they have them. The program is free and open to the public.

Additional sponsors include the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) and Manhattan Convention and Visitors Bureau. Refreshments for the program are sponsored by the Tuttle Creek Lake Association. Bus service is sponsored by the Tuttle Creek Lake Association and the Northern Flint Hills Audubon Society.

For more information, contact Steve Prockish at (785) 539-8511. Other similar eagle programs will be conducted at Milford and Perry reservoirs in January. Contact your nearest USACE or KDWPT office for details.