Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Day of Firsts

January 26, 2014:  This was going to be a day of firsts.

My first Eagle Days program in Clarksville, MO: Naturalist Trina Whitener and I, along with our awesome volunteer, Inga, left that morning with the Bald Eagle, Sanibel, and the Golden Eagle, Kili.  I was nervous.  I had worked with Sanibel on numerous occasions but Kili was another matter entirely. 

Working with Kili was an intimidating first 

Working with Kili, the fourteen pound behemoth, was going to be another first.  I only had to take her in and out of her crate for five different shows, in front of hundreds of people, and have her sit on my arm with talons that can exert about 450 pounds per square inch (psi) of pressure.  No big deal, right?!  And just to put that 450psi into perspective, the average human hand can only squeeze about 100psi of pressure. Yeah, I had nothing to worry about…

And I didn’t.  Kili was just as good as everyone told me she would be.  Every time I opened that crate door I was greeted with excited little chirps.  We had a towel in her crate that she could play with and when she would step up, she would hold onto that towel and look at me as if to say, “Hey, can I show everyone this fun toy I have?”  She seemed to love the attention she was getting, and the guests loved her.

The entire day went by smoothly.  In each show Trina discussed the enormous amounts of Bald Eagles that were flying around the area and encouraged guests to go and see the wild eagles along the river for themselves.  As of Saturday, Jan 25th, the conservationists had reported nearly 200 Bald Eagles.  So when our last show ended around 2:30pm we packed up quickly to go witness the wild, majestic birds ourselves.

There were nearly 200 Bald Eagles on the river (photo by Dawn Kernrich)

Majestic it was!  The event was another first for me as we witnessed several Bald Eagles flying around the river, swoop down to grab a fish, and then fly back to the trees to feast.  We even named one Pirate Bob.  Whenever he saw an eagle catch a fish, Pirate Bob would fly in and try to steal that fish.  I think he didn’t want to do the work of catching one himself.

On top of seeing all the eagles, there were nearly one hundred White Pelicans in the water and across the river hunting—another first!

There were easily a hundred White Pelicans on the river (photo by Dawn Kernrich)

If you haven’t had the chance to see the eagles during this time of the year, make time to do so.  It really is an awe-inspiring site that allows you to appreciate the wildlife that we have on this earth.

If you don’t have the opportunity to attend Eagle Days or see the wild ones on the river, you can always visit us at the World Bird Sanctuary to see our nation’s symbol (and many other species) up close.  The World Bird Sanctuary is open seven days a week from 8 to 5 except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

 Submitted by Dawn Kernrich, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist

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