Between the years 1917 and 1952 the bounty on Eagles in Alaska claimed the lives of 128,000 Eagles. The actual number probably exceeds 150,00, and those extras were bounties never collected.
At one Wyoming ranch, according to a 1970 report, 770 Bald Eagles were shot because of the perceived notion that Eagles were a threat to their livestock.
So with the Bald Eagle Protection Act in place one would think that everything would be alright. Wrong. Let’s not forget about DDT.
In 1962 Rachel Carson wrote a book titled Silent Spring. In it she exposes the devastation this chemical was having on wildlife. And Raptors were particularly vulnerable since they were higher up on the food chain. The effects of DDT on eagles was so horrible that in 1963 there was only 417 pairs of Bald Eagles left in the lower 48 states.
And in typical bureaucratic fashion (where speed isn’t their strong point) it was finally banned in 1972. However good news was on the horizon, when in 1978 the Bald Eagle was listed under the Endangered Species Act as endangered in 43 of the lower 48 states, and threatened in the rest.
In 1995 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service downgraded the Bald Eagle status from endangered, to threatened. And the numbers kept on rising.
So you may ask yourself why am I going on about the Bald Eagle with all these facts and dates. Well it turns out I had a special kind of encounter with the Bald Eagle just this last Sunday.
My morning started of at Spring Valley following up on good reports of both Winter Wren and Virginia Rail sightings. Having not been to this section of Spring valley before I really took my time in working the area, coming up completely empty on the target birds.
I hit up several more stops as the morning waned, adding more birds to the day count. The past few days has been unseasonably warm and some of the large gravel pits I stopped at showed signs of the ice breaking up. With this little bit of knowledge I hurried off to Harveysburg Road to check out Caesar Creek Lake. I pulled into my normal spot, grabbed my scope and wandered down towards where the road dead ends at the lake.
The lake level was real low. Probably because of the construction of a new marina. The ice had definitely melted. So much so that only along the shore line out maybe 20 yards was there any ice left. And it was along this demarcation of ice and water when I saw 2 Bald Eagles standing on the icy edge. An adult and a juvenile. I trained my scope on them and watched. Then another juvenile flies in. Now we have 3. Pretty outstanding since this is the most I’ve seen at one time at this lake.
Then a 4th juvenile shows up. Holy Cow! Grab the camera and lets get some crappy photos. One thing to remember these birds were real far from where I was standing. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get all 4 in one shot. You see when the 4th eagle landed, they all got kind of skittish and started to disperse.
Thank God for intelligent people who put forth the effort to save these absolutely beautiful creatures.