Friday 9am - 12pm
The American Bald Eagle is one of the most majestic birds in North America and in late January and early February the birds will begin courting and building the largest nest of any bird built in large full grown trees. During these months the American Bald Eagle migrates from the North to the warm southern areas. The eagle's habitat can be found near large bodies of water such as lakes that have a good source of fish and other foods. Since the Kentucky Lake does not freeze, this is an area for viewing the bird as well as Indiana's Patoka Lake. Mary our volunteer took a trip early January to Patoka to get a viewing of the bird. During Mary's excursion she not only learned about the eagle but other wildlife that lives in the Patoka area. The Kentucky Lake excursion highlights the same information noting that 140 bald eagles had been counted in 2018 and 30 active nests. It is a bird of prey and can be seen in Canada, Alaska and all contingent states and Northern Mexico.
The bird has a unique name "bald" but this comes from an older meaning of the word, "white headed". The adult is brown with a white head and tail with a body length 28–40 inches and wingspan of 5 ft up to 8 ft. The weight of the male eagle is between 6 and 14 pounds but the females will be 25% larger. The average life of the eagle in the wild is 20 years but there has been some evidence of the oldest being 38 years.
In the 20 century there was seen a decline of the bald eagle due to numerous reasons, one of the greatest was pesticides that contributed to the thinning of egg shells. Another reason was the mistake by hunters thinking the eagle was a predator grabbing smaller animals and even children causing many to be shot, in fact during a 12 year span 70,000 were shot in Alaska. In 1967 the bald eagle was declared endangered in the U.S., but by 1995 it was officially removed from the U.S. federal government's list of "endangered" and changed to "threatened."
The Owensboro and Mclean Cty area are no strangers to the Bald Eagle, there have been numerous sightings of birds flying around the region. The first time I saw a bald eagle up close was in 2017 when an injured bird was rescued by Nurture to Nature and was brought to the center in transit to the Broadbent Nature Sanctuary. The eagle was very large and appearing docile with a keen eye gaze, long sharp beak and very aware of its surroundings. The leg and talons of the eagle appeared in length as long as my arm beginning at the elbow to the end of my fingers. The eagle's feet are called talons which is far different than other animals that have claws. The eagles talons are designed to carry things and powerful enough to snag a large fish from the water and carry it through the air. Hunting birds will have feathers on their legs but the eagles does not, due to feathers would drag in water, slowing the quick dive as it emerges to the fly lift.
There is still an opportunity to catch glimpses of the eagle, by traveling along the wood lined shores of lakes and rivers. This could be a nature quest to view this great bird, realizing why the Bald Eagle was chosen as the national symbol of "the land of the free and the home of the brave" .