Bald Eagles Back In Tulsa Area

Thursday, January 1st 2009, 5:34 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Winter means the northern bald eagles return to Oklahoma.  SkyNews 6 got an up close look at three eagles.  Experts say now is the perfect time to catch a glimpse of a classic American symbol.

It was the second most viewed video on our website on Wednesday, as more than 300 people clicked on to watch three bald eagles begin their day on the Arkansas River.

"They're primarily fisherman but they will also take small mammals," said Tulsa Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Kay Backues.

Dr. Kay Backues is a veterinarian at the Tulsa Zoo and proudly watches over the zoo's two bald eagles:  Sutton, an older male, and Sallisaw, a young female who's brown feathers are just starting to turn.       

Both birds were injured in the wild and are unable to live outside of captivity.  Dr. Backues says there are 60 nesting pairs of wild eagles in Oklahoma.  But, come winter, eagles from the north make their way to Green Country in search of warm weather.

"You're going to find them around.  Lake Keystone is a great place to see them. Any place you have water, Arkansas River, Illinois River any of those places where there's open water," said Tulsa Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Kay Backues.

Their nests are hard to miss.  The News On 6 found one north of I-44 next to the Arkansas River in the middle of a mobile home park.

"It's been pretty exciting watching them," said Jeanine Lott.

The nest is practically in Jeanine Lott's backyard.  She's kept an eye on it since it first appeared a year ago and watched as an adult pair raised two eaglets.

"It's really entertaining and there are a lot of people that come around and stand across the street with their binoculars and watch it.  It's pretty cool," said Jeanine Lott.

If you find yourself close to the American icon, Dr. Backues says be careful, but soak in the experience.

"Take a few minutes and just stop and enjoy being able to see one because I think it's a real honor just to get to see one and they really are awe-inspiring birds," said Tulsa Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Kay Backues.

The Tulsa Audubon Society is holding a Bald Eagle Watch Party on Saturday morning from 8 to 10, just north of the Keystone Dam.

The birds are no longer on the endangered list, but they are still protected and it is illegal to hurt them.