Lakecaster Online

Where the Eagles Soar
By Patty Lenderman

There are many types of eagles, but here in East Texas many sightings of bald eagles have been reported. Strikingly handsome, it is the only eagle solely native to North America and has been the U.S. national bird since 1782. The adult, about 40 inches long, is dark brown with a white head and tail, yellow beak, eyes and feet. It's wingspan can reach up to 6 ½ feet. Bald eagles live inland, along rivers and large lakes which makes this area perfect for this beautiful majestic bird. They snatch fish from the water surface, rob osprey of fish, and eat carrion. They nest in inaccessible places like lone trees, often on river islands, and use the same nest each year. They also mate for life.

Eagles are generally larger and more powerful than hawks and may resemble a vulture in build and flight characteristics, but they have a fully feathered (often crested) head and strong feet equipped with great curved talons. Most species mainly eat live prey, which they generally capture on the ground. Eagles have been a symbol of war and imperial power since Babylonian times.

Though protected in the US since 1940, the eagle population has been depleted by river pollution, pesticides, and loss of nesting sites. In recent years it seems that many pairs have established our rivers and lakes as "home", evidence of this being that many young eagles are hatching out of the nests and soaring our skies.

Could this be the "hatchery" that brings our national symbol off of the endangered species list? We can only hope so. One can only stop and watch once an eagle has been spotted at it's enormous size and grace as it soars through the air. In many cases, they are nesting near homes and campgrounds, not paying any mind to the people who are so near, watching them and taking pictures. The State Fish Hatchery in Jasper, TX is where the eagles in the picture are roosting. They had an offspring this year, and "baby" stands just as tall as mom and dad already. Young eaglets are solid chocolate brown and remain that way for two years. Very often young bald eagles are mistaken for golden eagles. After two years, the white on its head and tail appear.

The State Fish Hatchery is on the "Birding trail" map for the many different species of birds who have taken residence there as well as all of the migratory birds who use the Hatchery as a "pit stop". It is open to the public and if you would like a tour they are located just off of Hwy 63, between Hwy 255 and Hwy 190. Telephone number is 409-384-9965.

< photos by Patty Lenderman >

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