At least two Iowa communities along the Mississippi River are holding events this weekend to educate people about our national symbol. A Bald Eagle Watch is planned for Dubuque while Bald Eagle Appreciation Days is underway in Keokuk.
Kirk Brandenberger is executive director of the Keokuk Area Convention and Tourism Bureau. He says the eagles are the stars of the show but they’re also offering educational programs on another species — the mussels who live in the mud under the Mississippi River. This is the city’s 24th annual event to honor the eagles.
Brandenberger says there are easily hundreds of the white-headed eagles soaring around the open water of the river at Keokuk, looking for fish. He says: "It is a beautiful sight. They’re so majestic when they’re flying and you can get fairly close to them in Keokuk and we’ve got a good bunch moving in." He suggests bringing cameras, binocular and telescopes. Presentations are scheduled with expert biologists, Native Americans, and eagle wood-carvers, among others.
Brandenberger says no matter what the weather, there are always good crowds that turn out to see the eagles. "It’s important because it’s the national symbol and 24 years ago, when the Iowa DNR started this program, they were endangered because of the DDT and other pesticides. It’s just been a real success story that they’ve come back the way that they have."