June 20 proclamation presentation will recognize the bald eagle success story
TOPEKA — Governor Sam Brownback has declared Monday, June 20, as American Eagle Day in Kansas in recognition of the American bald eagle and its growing population in the Sunflower State. Brownback will present a signed proclamation to representatives of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks on June 20 during a 10:30 a.m. ceremony at the Great Plains Nature Center, 6232 E 29th Street North (at the intersection of Woodlawn and 29th Street North), in Wichita. The public is invited to attend and admission is free. Naturalists from the Prairie Park Nature Center in Lawrence will be on hand with a live bald eagle.
According to Brownback, “The American bald eagle is a real conservation success story and one in which Kansas has played an important role. Bald eagles have become increasingly common in Kansas thanks to the efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks; and the support of many state conservation organizations and dedicated individuals.”
In Kansas, the numbers of eaglets hatched annually has increased from two eaglets in one nest in 1989 — at Clinton Reservoir — to 69 eaglets from 34 nests in 2010. Most of the nest sites are in eastern and central Kansas.
Bald eagles typically nest near water in large trees and add material to the nest and use it in subsequent years. Usually, two eggs are laid, and it takes the young four to five years to develop adult plumage. Migrant eagles from the north often congregate around Kansas lakes, streams, and wetlands during the winter. They feed primarily on fish, waterfowl, mammals, and carrion.
Bald eagles became the national symbol in 1782, but the population declined sharply due habitat loss as human populations spread, widespread poaching, and DDT use after World War II. DDT accumulated in the eagles and caused the females to lay weak-shelled eggs, which broke during incubation.
By the 1970’s the population had dropped to about 2,000 birds with only 400 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states. After DDT was banned in 1972, concerted conservation efforts reversed the decline, and the eagle’s population has been slowly increasing. They are no longer listed as threatened or endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act or as threatened in Kansas. They’re still protected under two other federal Acts that protect bald and golden eagles, and migratory birds.