LEWISTON — With this week’s bird count at 50 eagles between Chautauqua and Emiquon national wildlife refuges, the annual Fulton-Mason Eagle Day this Saturday promises to be a success.
Activities center around Dickson Mounds Museum, but one of the event’s highlights will be the spotting scope stations U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rangers are setting up at the Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge off Dickson Mounds Road. Visitors will get to view eagles from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We have a nest that a pair of eagles have been adding to for the last three or four years,” said Mitch Bauman, wildlife refuge specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, during a phone interview Tuesday. “I just got a text from a biologist who said they are adding twigs to it now.”
Eagles typically breed in February, said Bauman.
“Right now they may be courting. Typically they reuse the same nest every year, and they add some branches to do a little maintenance,” he said.
The nest, and hopefully its owners, will be on the tour Saturday.
The eagle population has grown a lot since the first Eagle Day more than 20 years ago, said Bauman.
“We’ve gone from a rare sighting to they are so common that we don’t even look twice at them any more,” he said. “Last year we had three or four hundred of them on the ice. They are not even endangered anymore. Eagle Day is great opportunity, a real treat for people to be able to see them up close and in the wild.”
In addition to viewing eagles in the wild, visitors will have the opportunity to view live birds up close in the warmth of Dickson Mounds Museum. The World Bird Sanctuary will present “Raptor Awareness" at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. in the museum auditorium. The hourlong program features live hawks, owls and an eagle, and will feature a free-flight demonstration. Though the show is free, seating is limited and visitors need tickets to attend. Tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis in the museum lobby starting at 9 a.m. Saturday.
The museum is also planning numerous other activities from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Informational displays and hands-on activities will be offered, and several scientists and wildlife experts will be on hand to answer questions. In the museum’s exhibit gallery, “Audubon: The Birds of America," prints from the collection of the Illinois State Museum will be on display.
Mason County is also participating in Eagle Day. At the Havana Park District’s Chester Center, 200 S. McKinley St. in Havana, there will be Wildlife Prairie Park’s "Birds of Prey" live bird exhibit and a variety of educational exhibits and activities from 9 a.m. to noon. The Havana Park District’s Nature Center, at 416 N. Schhrader St., will host wildlife viewing and kids activities throughout the day.
All events are free and open to all ages. A list of events and maps will be available at the museum. Learn more at www.dicksonmounds.com or experienceemiquon.com.
Leslie Renken can be reached at 686-3250 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter.com/LeslieRenken, and subscribe to her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.