On Jan. 31 a number of Flagstaff residents of all ages came together to learn about one of America’s defining symbols: the bald eagle. The presentation, hosted by the Willow Bend Environmental Education discussed a variety of details about bald eagles. Topics ranged from differences in eagles’ size, their diet, banding, courtship and egg lying.
Arizona Game and Fish pulled two children out of the audience to help show the wingspan of a bald eagle. They were given a cloth cut-out of an eagle and asked to hold each end. This represented that the average wing span of a bald eagle, which is between five and eight feet.
During the event, there were three informative sessions. The Early Bird session began with a 7:30 a.m. field trip searching for bald eagles. Willow Bend then held an Eaglets Program suitable for children and their parents. Their last program of the day, Fully Fledged, was a presentation on bald eagles open to all ages.
The director of Willow Bend Cassandra Roberts said her favorite part of the events is the look on the children’s faces. She said that for many years Willow Bend and Arizona Game and Fish did their own separate programs but they decided to pair up for this event.
“They teach the adult club and we teach the kid club,” Roberts said.
Willow Bend and Arizona Game and Fish introduced Liberty Wildlife during the presentation. They came to the event to notify the audience of their efforts to rehabilitate and re-release animals back into the wild.
“We started in 1981 and we rehabilitate 5,000 animals a year, all native wildlife. So it’s [animals] like raccoons, humming birds, eagles, hawks and owls but since we’ve been incorporated in 1981 we’ve put 92 bald eagles back out into the wild in conjunction with Arizona Game and Fish,” said animal care coordinator at Liberty Wildlife Jan Miller.
Although Liberty Wildlife attempts to re-release most of the animals they care for, there were two eagles that they brought with them that were unable to be re-released back into the wild. One was a bald eagle named Aurora and a golden eagle named Anasazi. When the crowd caught a glimpse of the two eagles they swarmed around and stood there in amazement. Many of the individuals who came to listen to the presentation had been to Willow Bend before. For others, Liberty Wildlife had just shown them their first eagles. However, many of the individuals who attended had seen a number of eagles in their lifetime.
“I had an experience once where two golden eagles ate one of my chickens,” said Flagstaff resident Marie Therese Billingsley.
The Fully Fledged program was a chance for Willow Bend, Arizona Game and Fish and Liberty Wildlife to educate both children and adults. By the end of the presentation, there were children answering questions about the eagles.
“These programs are very important because it brings awareness to the public so that they can understand why we need to conserve and save these animals and our precious resources that are out there to keep a better world for us and so we can hand it over to others,” Miller said.
With the help of these informative programs, Arizona Game and Fish and Liberty Wildlife, the bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list in 2007. There are 68 breeding areas throughout Arizona, primarily in Verde Valley and Salt River. Although they were removed from the endangered species, list the bald eagle is still on nest watch. Members of Arizona Game and Fish locate the nest and check to see if all the baby eagles are progressing as they should be. This information allows researchers to track and protect eagles and make sure that society becomes aware of why these animals deserve to be saved.