Bad weather means good Bald Eagle watching and bird enthusiasts weren’t disappointed at Clarksville’s annual Eagle Days held Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 26-27.
The celebration of one of America’s greatest symbols was put on in conjunction with the Missouri Department of Conservation and the American Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park.
One of the annual highlights of the event is the eagle lecture given by Trina Whitener of the bird sanctuary. Whitener outlines the history and habits of the great birds and produces two rescued eagles for close-up public viewing.
“Bald eagles are only in the United States and Canada,” Whitener told the crowd. “We often take things for granted and that’s when you are most at risk. That’s what happened to bald eagles with DDT.”
DDT was a pesticide that worked well ridding crops of insectsbut it also began killing eagles to the point where they were virtually extinct. That caused them to be listed on the endangered species list by the federal government in 1978.
The ban of DDT and conservation efforts to improve their habitat occurred after the listing and the numbers of eagles that migrate between Canada and the United State began to increase.
The large wingspan raptors were taken off the federal endangered list and downgraded to threatened in 1995.
Eagles were taken off the federal threatened list in 2007, but Missouri still considers them to be in that category.
Clarksville is especially right for bald eagles because they like to fish in front of dams, like Lock and Dam 24 on the Mississippi River located on the city’s riverfront.
While many were enjoying the eagles presentation and video at the Apple Shed this year, others were at Clarksville’s Riverfront Park and Visitor’s Center watching eagles through binoculars across the river.
Migrating eagles will remain in the Clarksville and Louisiana areas for the next few weeks. Some stay year-round and can be seen by lucky viewers around bluffs and trees lining the Mississippi that provide the birds good viewing perches for fish.