People Meet Eagles at Eagle Watch 2016
By Jim Anderson
For once it wasn't raining, snowing, or windy and eagles were soaring by all day at the Oregon State Park's 2016 Eagle Watch event held last Saturday and Sunday at PGE's Round Butte Overlook Park near Culver. Both Golden and Bald Eagles passed by the observation areas where spotting scopes were set up, causing people to exclaim, "Oh, look, you can see the white head of that Bald Eagle," and, "Wow! see how the gold shows on that adult Golden Eagle ..."
Over 800 people from all over Oregon and other states attended the annual free Eagle Watch event which started back in 1986. Frank Isaacs, Project Manager of the Oregon Eagle Foundation presented the latest results of the research he and his team have been doing over the last 5 years on a statewide survey of Golden eagles.
The Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, Oregon Parks & Recreation Department (OP&RD), Oregon Eagle Foundation, East Cascades Audubon Society, The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Portland General Electric eagle telemetry team and biologists, and the Sunriver Nature Center, all had yurts with displays representing their work.
The Sunriver Nature Center and Observatory had an adult rehabbed Golden Eagle on display along with a Great Horned Owl used for educational programs. People of all ages, from six-to-sixty, were given wild bird names as they entered the Audubon yurt to learn about Oregon's native birds.
One highlight of Saturday was the presentation of the "Order of the Eagle" to Ralph Opp, retired ODFW manager from Klamath Falls. The award was presented for the work he accomplished in starting the celebrated Winter Wings Eagle Festival and his part forming the Oregon Eagle Foundation in cooperation with Frank Isaacs.
For both Saturday and Sunday, Culver Middle School teachers and students made sure no one went home hungry by serving up donuts and coffee all though the day and roasting delicious hot dogs on an open fire from noon until they ran out.
The Confederated Tribes of Warms Springs dancers added a cultural highlight with their program on Sunday afternoon. Smokey the Bear was on hand to keep the message of fire safety in the forest at the forefront of the participants, while PGE's costumed light bulb wandered through the area reminding people of conserving electricity.
Perhaps the busiest part of both days were the families helping their children to assemble bird houses from the pre-cut lumber provided by OP&RD. Assembling began right after lunch on both days, and as a result the sound of hammering could be heard throughout the rest of the day as children and parents completed boxes to house birds in their backyards. "This part of Eagle Watch will keep bird conservation alive in the minds and activities of the children all year," said Erin Bennet of OP&RD, and organizer of Eagle Watch.
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Photo: Frank Isaacs (right) presents The Order of the Eagle at Eagle Watch 2016 to Ralph Opp, retired ODFW wildlife biologist who, with Isaacs found the Oregon Eagle Foundation. (Photo by Sue Anderson)