Sunday, January 18, 2009


Yesterday, Paul and I went down to the banks of the Iowa River to watch for the Bald eagles that come to the area every winter.  We walked out across the foot bridge that crosses the river above the old Iowa River Power Company dam and although it was windy and cold, it was well worth the effort, as we were rewarded with a sight that everybody ought to get to see.  There were no fewer than 15 Bald eagles flying over the river in just this one spot alone.  The Canadian geese in these photos were very nervous about the eagles swooping among them, hunting for fish.  I would be too!  It really was an incredible sight.
Bald eagles were put on the endangered species list in 1967 when the pesticide DDT began to kill adult eagles and damaging their eggs so that they were unable to reproduce.  As if the DDT wasn't damaging enough,  farmers and ranchers felt that the eagles were dangerous predators, and so they poisoned and shot many thousands of them before they became protected.  At that time, there were only 417 pairs of eagles left in the lower 48 states.  What a sad fate for such an enduring symbol of our country and our freedom.  After years of careful management by scientists and government agencies like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bald eagle has made a remarkable comeback with more than 11,000 birds being counted in a recent national survey.  In 2007 they were removed from the endangered list, which doesn't mean that they are safe from the threat of extinction, just a lot further from that point. 
It was so exciting to see them, especially in such great numbers.  What a great privilege.  You can bet that I'll be down there to watch them many more days before spring.

1 comment:

Anne E. Mitchell said...

WOW, they are so beautiful...Thank you for braving the cold.