There is excitement in the air for everyone in Kansas with any interest in birds!! The eagles are arriving! They follow the waterfowl migration and will soon start nesting. It’s still hard for me to accept that these birds nest in cold (often freezing) weather. In Kansas, nesting season usually begins in late December or January. I saw a report recently that an active nest was documented in November.
The amount of diligent human effort involved in documenting and protecting these birds by the enormously energetic birding community in Kansas goes mostly under the radar of the hunting/fishing groups. Precise information on arrival, nest building, nest locations, egg laying and hatch dates — collected by Wildlife/Parks, Kansas Wetlands and the Nature Conservancy — is vital in understanding human influence on survival. I personally am an enthusiastic marginal birder and mostly a photographer and hunter. I’m poor at lists which are intense for serious birders, and I’m never going to get a grasp on warblers and sparrows. I’m also fairly certain that I have consumed a robin that found its way into a Louisiana gumbo one time. I honestly don’t know the scope of the Audubon Society and feel like I should. I wish that someone would explore the development of a program or platform where sportsmen and the birding community could join forces to improve habitat and conditions for all our birds. There has to be a large amount of information that would let us all work together toward a common goal.
The first documented Bald Eagle (it takes 3-5 years to get the white head) nest in Kansas was 1989. Golden eagles (look like juvenile Bald Eagles except legs are covered by feathers) are much less frequent and I can only find a couple of reports indicating a nesting/breeding event in Kansas. The Golden Eagle is the national bird of Mexico.
Some of my best eagle pictures have been taken in Lawrence where the river is close to an old motel. Behind the dam at Milford and the big sky of Quivira Refuge are two of my other favorite spots. They squabble and chase and dive for fish.
Sometimes I think I should get a bumper sticker “I brake for Eagles” because I almost always do exactly that — they always make me proud.
Go see every eagle that you can — they are spectacular!!!!
There are some short-eared owls also at the Bottoms now — beautiful birds! Don’t confuse them with Burrowing Owls!
Doctor Dan Witt is a retired physician and nature enthusiast.