Pella Chronicle

Community News Network

January 14, 2013

Eagles take to the wing

Crowd drawn to 2013 Eagle Watch

OTTUMWA — The 2013 Eagle Watch started cold and early.

“We were out of hot chocolate by 10 a.m.,” said Joe Roe, a dad and volunteer with Boy Scouts of America Troop 11. “They had a good turnout. This is our fifth year of volunteering [and] this is the most people I’ve seen.”

He and some of the scouts were stationed at the railroad bridge where hikers and bird watchers gathered to view American bald eagles on the Des Moines River.

The Wapello County Trails Council hosts the eagle event every year, said one of the organizers, Kim Hellige. She said this year saw the greatest participation from the public. The walk itself had more than 80 people.

“Nearly 100 people, but the [smallest] number of eagles we’ve seen!” she said.

But there were eagles. Visitors told the Courier they were having a great time at the event. The eagles that were over the river did “perform” for their fans.

The first part of the bridge over the river has a type of “bird blind” with slits in the steel allowing visitors to watch the eagles without disturbing them.

“Earlier, I did see an eagle just standing there on the rocks,” said one boy scout, Tylor Durbin, 12. “It was pretty cool.”

It’s the closest he’s been to one of the hunters.

“It was a first experience kind of thing,” he said. “I’ve never really [looked at] a bald eagle before.”

Others saw the birds fishing.

“We walked several years ago, when the trail was gravel,” said Brenda Gillihan of Ottumwa. “It’s paved now — very nice. It leads closer to the river.”

She said there were eagles over the water, as well as in trees. The majestic birds did not, however, want company, and most departed when humans came to close.

“We walked all the way to Highway 34,” Gillihan said.

But even the ones they saw from a distance were impressive, said friend Tina Pearson of Eldon.

“Isn’t it amazing how they just float — float forever?” she asked.

They were reading facts to each other as one or the other found an interesting tidbit.

“It takes almost five years for their heads to turn completely white,” said Pearson.

Between that and the color of the tail, one can determine the approximate age of a bald eagle, they discovered.

The ladies had gotten some literature from one of the vendors set up inside Bridge View Center.

There were vendors there directly related to eagles and other raptors, like SOAR (see sidebar), which talked about protecting the birds and had some live ones there to greet the public.

Others involved the simple love of getting outdoors: A bicycle shop, a tennis racket creator and an artisan who makes and sells bird feeders shared space in the large, warm hall.

Some adults would venture out into the cold occasionally to snap a quick photo before rushing back inside.

Hellige had recently said when it comes to eagles, the colder it is, the better. When it gets really cold, she explained, eagles seek out places where there is “open” water so they can fish.

Stephen Blaine didn’t comment on the cold. Nor would he agree to put on gloves. The five-year-old went outside every chance he got. He used his binoculars to spot eagles, or, on one occasion, a pair of ducks.

And when people did spot a bald eagle, they’d point them out to each other. Bob Meyers of Ottumwa was over looking at the live bald eagle brought in by the SOAR raptor rescue group. He recalled a time when spotting an American bald eagle would have been nearly impossible in Ottumwa. So the area was very lucky to have so many American bald eagles. Because while there may have been more in past years when people were celebrating the Wapello County Trails Council eagle event, Meyers just finished reading that the Des Moines River still had more eagles along it than the Mississippi this year.

Pearson also feels a sense of pride when she sees American bald eagles in Wapello County. She said one of the guys in her family asked her why she’d bother going to an eagle watch.

“He said they’re just birds, that it’s no big deal,” she said. “Well, it is a big deal. To me, they represent freedom. They’re just amazing.”

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 2.21.22 PM.png VIDEO: Dog 'faints' from excitement of seeing owner

    A reunion between a Pennsylvania woman who had been living overseas for two years and her pet schnauzer has gone viral, garnering nearly 20 million views on YouTube.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Why a see-through mouse is a big deal for scientists

    A group of Caltech researchers announced in Cell Thursday their success in making an entire organism transparent. Unfortunately, this isn't any kind of "Invisible Man" scenario: The organism in question is a mouse, and the mouse in question is quite dead.

    July 31, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 2.12.55 PM.png VIDEO: Five-year-old doesn't want her brother to grow up

    Sadie, an adorable 5-year-old from Phoenix, wants her brother to stay young forever, so much so that her emotional reaction to the thought of him getting older has drawn more than 10 million views on YouTube.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • lockport-police.jpg Police department turns to Facebook for guidance on use of 'negro'

    What seems to be a data entry mistake by a small town police department in western New York has turned into a social media firestorm centered around the word "negro" and whether it's acceptable to use in modern society.

    July 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • The virtues of lying

    Two computational scientists set out recently to simulate the effects of lying in a virtual human population. Their results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that lying is essential for the growth of a cohesive social network.

    July 31, 2014

  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 30, 2014

  • Survey results in legislation to battle sexual assault on campus

    Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill joined a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday to announce legislation that aims to reduce the number of sexual assaults on college campuses.

    July 30, 2014

  • An alarming threat to airlines that no one's talking about

    It's been an abysmal year for the flying public. Planes have crashed in bad weather, disappeared over the Indian Ocean and tragically crossed paths with anti-aircraft missiles over Ukraine.

    July 30, 2014

  • Sharknado.jpg Sharknado 2 set to attack viewers tonight

    In the face of another "Sharknado" TV movie (the even-more-inane "Sharknado 2: The Second One," premiering Wednesday night on Syfy), there isn't much for a critic to say except to echo what the characters themselves so frequently scream when confronted by a great white shark spinning toward them in a funnel cloud:
    "LOOK OUT!!"

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

Features
Facebook
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Obituaries