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Bald eagle pair return to Twin Lakes aerie

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Nov. 12, 2012, at 7:33 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, July 1, 2014, at 11:26 a.m.

They are still a couple after all these years.

For the third year in a row, the eagles have returned to their nest on the island at Twin Lakes. They are easily seen from Twin Lakes’ west parking lot just off Amidon.

“Here we go again,” said Wichita birder Paul Griffin.

As the bald eagles gather on the island – he arrived Friday; she got here Sunday – photographers also are gathering. In the past few winters, nearly every waking moment of the birds’ lives has been photographed.

There are pictures of the birds building and rebuilding their nest. Eating fish. Feeling amorous.

All in the hopes that someday there might be photos of eaglets.

“The wait-and-see game begins,” said Bob Gress, a Wichita naturalist and birder and past director of the Great Plains Nature Center.

In recent years, winters in downtown Wichita have meant a growing number of eagles feeding and sometimes nesting. As it gets colder, more of the birds typically arrive.

The eagles migrate from the northern Great Lakes to Kansas lakes and rivers, where they search for open water, fish and waterfowl. When Kansas lakes freeze, they look for food along rivers, including the Arkansas River in downtown Wichita.

The eagles, which have a wingspan between 6 and 8 feet, usually stay in Wichita’s downtown area until the end of February or early March. Typically, bald eagles will lay their eggs in February if they do mate.

This particular couple has in years’ past shown signs they would like to raise a family.

“They’ve dinked around with this nest,” Gress said. “It is possible they might be either nesting somewhere else or one of them isn’t quite right. … Maybe both.”

If the couple decides to rebuild their nest this year, they will have a lot of work to do. Two families of herons nesting over the summer combined with high winds have destroyed some of the work the two eagles put into to their aerie over the past three years.

“Certified engineers they are not,” Griffin said. “But they won’t get serious about the building until the first part of December.”

For now, all that matters is that the eagles are back.

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com.

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