If you have spent time exploring the many hiking and biking trails of The Parklands this winter, you may have been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of two American Bald Eagles that have taken up residence along Floyds Fork. While the increase in sightings around The Parklands is partially due to the fallen leaves, the increased presence of Bald Eagles is also an indicator of habitat health.
The adult Bald Eagle is easily recognizable by its brown body and distinctive white crown. The bald eagle subsists on a main diet of fish, small mammals, and carrion (the decaying dead flesh of an animal). With the recent stocking of trout in The Parklands fishing lakes and sections of Floyds Fork, it’s no wonder these symbols of the United States have found a home within our nearly 4,000 acres of park property.
Bald Eagle populations in North America in the 1700s were once estimated to be between 300,000-500,000. Sport hunting, hunting to protect fisheries, habitat degradation, and the use of a pesticide called DDT decimated these numbers to an all time low of 500 nesting pairs. The addition of the bald eagle to the endangered species list in the 1970s enabled populations to rebound through conservation measures and reintroduction projects.
Today, there are roughly 5,000 mating pairs in the lower 48 states. Populations have rebounded so well that bald eagles are now listed as a species of “least concern” and have been removed entirely from the endangered species list.
Pair of Bald Eagles in Turkey Run Park, February 2017. Photo by Park Ranger Jim Miller
At The Parklands, proper management of ponds, streams, meadows, and forest ecosystems is creating high quality habitat for bald eagles as well as other birds of prey such as barred owls, red-shouldered hawks, and red-tail hawks.
Main Photo: Bald Eagle in Beckley Creek Park, January 2017. Photo by Park Attendant Jeff Mattingly
About the Author
As Director of Education, Curtis Carman oversees The Parklands Outdoor Classroom, promoting STEAM-based education through engaging, hands-on learning both outdoors and inside the classroom. Each year, his team of Education Specialists, Interpretive Rangers and Camp Counselors guide nearly 20,000 participants of all ages through school field trips, camps, Parklands Explorer, Junior Explorer and Wednesday Wonders. Prior to his promotion to Education Director in May of 2018, Curtis first joined The Parklands team as an Interpretive Ranger and led the department as Education Coordinator for three years. A native of Louisville and a graduate of Ballard High School, Curtis returned to his hometown after having worked as an environmental educator in Maine and Colorado at Acadia and Rocky Mountain National Parks. Curtis also served as Membership Manager at the Rocky Mountain Conservancy. Curtis enjoys hiking, biking, camping and kayaking.