“Winter Wings Festival”: Thousands of Bald Eagles Descend on Klamath Basin


Photo Courtesy of www.jimcoda.com

Each winter, hundreds—sometimes thousands—of bald eagles descend upon the Klamath Basin, attracted by plentiful food and safe nesting grounds. And each winter, over Presidents’ Day weekend, thousands of eagle enthusiasts flock to the area to participate in the country’s longest-running bird festival, the Winter Wings Festival.

In the 1700s, near a half million bald eagles roamed the Americas www.baldeagleinfo.com reported. They can fly as as fast as 30 miles per hour.

Bald eagles were once hunted for sport and for the “protection” of fishing grounds, according to national geographic.com.DDT  and other pesticides killed or injured  eagles and other birds. “These chemicals collect in fish, which make up most of the eagle’s diet. They weaken the bird’s eggshells and severely limited their ability to reproduce,” reported national geographic.com. ” Since DDT use was heavily restricted in 1972, eagle numbers have rebounded significantly and have been aided by reintroduction programs. The result is a wildlife success story—the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has upgraded the birds from endangered to threatened.”

Bald eagles breeding range in the summer spans from Alaska to Newfoundland, south to Baja California, and then to Florida www.seagrant.wisc.edu stated. Only eagles in the farthest northern and southern ranges migrate. Eagles in the south of the upper Great Lakes and in the provinces and in New England do not migrate.

The national emblem of the United States since 1782 and a spiritual symbol for native people long before that, “bald” eagles aren’t really bald, but “their white-feathered heads gleam in contrast to their chocolate-brown body and wing,” according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.