Wild Times: Eagles are on the rise

I was trying to think back to when I would have ever seen my first Bald Eagle, and it would have to have been in Canada many years ago. I really don’t remember the event but I am sure I was very excited when I saw my first eagle. As the years went by and the trips to Canada added up, the sightings of eagles also went up.

It is no secret that at one time in our history the Bald Eagle was on the verge of extinction. In the 1970s, the estimated population of our national bird was down to around 2,000. It was at this time the eagle was put on the Endangered Species list, and it was all hands on deck in the effort to save this revered species.

Over the years, the population of the birds slowly increased. If you research the Bald Eagle, you will find that most of the birds do their nesting in Canada and Alaska. In the last nine months, I have made a couple of trips up to Alaska.

The first trip was into Ketchikan in late June. The number of eagles seen there was amazing. There was no way to count them. The second trip was into Valdez in November, and it was the same situation. Considering the locations of these eagle sightings, this is no big deal.

Fast forward to this past weekend in Sabetha. I spotted eagles on four separate occasions. They were not all the same eagle, either! Yes, right here in our backyard, we have an ample supply of Bald Eagles. How can this be? Before we answer this question, we need to remember that we have an even neater situation up at Pony Creek Lake.

For the past couple of years, there have been a nesting pair of Bald Eagles west of the lake. There may be more than one nesting pair, but I know there is one pair for sure. On the west side of the highway across from the lake you can’t miss the two large eagle nests. To have eagles nesting in our area is a testament to the recovery of the numbers of eagles. What once was a sight that one could only see in Alaska or Canada, you can now see right here in our backyard. I have seen numerous people stopping along the highway to glass the nesting site with binoculars the last two summers. I am sure the pair or pairs will be back nesting once again this spring.

This is a great time of year to see the eagles here in our area because of all of the geese that we now have. The number one food source for eagles are fish and carrion. If you know anything about geese and the migration, you will know that a lot of geese don’t survive the long journey. Either due to predation or disease, a lot of geese die. That is why the eagles follow the geese migration.

In our area, we are beginning to see large flocks of snow geese. On the heels of those flocks will come the Bald Eagles. The last couple of years, there have been many eagles staying in the area while the geese come through. No matter how many Bald Eagles you have seen in your life, the sight of one flying will cause you to stop and gaze at it. Finding one sitting so regally in a tree also is cause for a traffic jam. The Bald Eagle is truly one of nature’s magnificent creatures and worthy of a second glance.

Right now is a great time to be out near Pony Creek with a pair of binoculars. This upcoming weekend is supposed to be great weather, so head north and see if you can spot our national bird.

Tim Kellenberger123 Posts

Tim Kellenberger serves as Owner, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief for The Sabetha Herald since 2004. He specializes in sports reporting and column writing, as well as sports photography. Tim is a Grace University graduate with a dual degree in agricultural economics and human resource management. He lives in rural Sabetha with his wife and has four grown children and two grandchildren.

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