Over 130 visitors attended the Annual Bald Eagle Event held in partnership by AZ Game and Fish, Willow Bend Environmental Education Center and Liberty Wildlife
The day started with an early morning field trip led by AZ Game and Fish Biologists and volunteers. The lucky group spotted 6 juvenile bald eagles, one adult golden eagle, and numerous waterfowl species along Lake Mary Road.
The day continued with three talks at Willow Bend presented by AZ Game and Fish biologists and Willow Bend staff covering eagle ecology, management, and conservation. During the family focused program our young participants became ornithologists for the day and made observations about eagle characteristics, feeding habits, and habitat. One young volunteer got to dress up as an eagle to demonstrate key eagle adaptations.
But the highlight of the day was the appearance of live eagles from Liberty Wildlife. In addition to our annual eagle visitors: Aurora the adult bald eagle and the Anasazi the golden eagle, this year Liberty Wildlife had a special surprise. They brought Laddie, a juvenile bald eagle, which provided participants the opportunity to observe the difference in feather coloration and size between an adult and a juvenile bald eagle.
The eagles displayed their impressive wing span and their powerful talons while Joe and Jan Miller, wildlife rehabilitators and bird trainers from Liberty Wildlife, shared information about the birds, conservation efforts, and Liberty Wildlife rehabilitation center.
“This is a wonderful event and a great opportunity to educate the public, especially children, about eagles in hope of ensuring their continued survival” said Moran Henn, Willow Bend’s Executive Director. Joe Miller, from Liberty Wildlife, emphasized the importance of programs that rehabilitate and protect eagles, and shared a few simple ways each and every one of us can help, “from picking up fishing lines, leaving birds alone while in their nests, and notifying the appropriate entities if you see an injured bird or unlawful behavior” said Miller. Shelly Shepherd, AZ Game and Fish Information and Education Program Manager was pleased with the public’s interest in local wildlife. She explained that “programs like this are a way to promote collaboration and cooperation for wildlife management and conservation”. “This was amazing!” concluded 8 year old Lucy, one of the event’s participants, and summed up the day for all of us.