A nearly mature juvenile in flight.
Jason Parrie is an interpreter at the park.
This youngster has yet to develop the distictive white head of a bald eagle.
It's a boat ride like no other.
Instead of blue skies and bright sunshine, overcast and cloudy is best to spot the American Bald Eagle
Park Interpreter Jason Parrie says, "We have eagles in Arkansas year-round. We see them here at DeGray year-round primarily in the winter months, October through the end of February or the first of March."
In 1967 the bald eagle was placed on the endangered species list.
But the eagle made a comeback. Populations are up. And in 2007, the bald eagle was taken off the endangered species list.
Eagle tours are conducted now at several Arkansas state parks.
Only 10 minutes into the tour, Today's THV spotted our first eagle in a dead pine tree.
"He's pretty young and kind of fat, "explains Parrie. "You see that in a lot of the bird of prey. The real young ones that are big enough to fly but aren't full adults yet, sometime they'll be a little bit bigger than the adults."
The eagle is a young juvenile. He has yet to develop the distinctive white head and tail. Only 100 yards away, a second juvenile is spotted in the top of another dead pine. This one is starting to develop adult markings.
He takes wing, giving a good look at the size of an eagle.
The wingspan of an adult female can grow to almost six feet.
Mike and Sharon Gladout came to Lake DeGray to celebrate their anniversary. The eagle tour topped off their special weekend.
"I'd come back in a heartbeat, " says Mike Gladout. "It was really fun, the whole weekend, the hot springs area."
Sharon Gladout agrees.
"I love this lake. It is wonderful. And I think the young eagle was as exciting to see as the mature one," she says.
This weekend, DeGray Lake State Resort and Park holds their annual Eagles Etcetera Festival.
It's a chance for everyone to see out national symbol both in the wild - and up close.
Parrie says, "There's a rehabilitator who's bringing an injured eagle that's been nursed back to health, and he's going to release that eagle on Saturday. He got a couple of owls too that he's going to do on Friday night."
The bald eagle is considered sacred to Native Americans. And to see one fly leaves you with an understanding why it remains to be an inspiring symbol to many other.
Eagles Etcetera Festival Schedule of Events
Friday, January 2
2:00 PM- EARLY BIRD EAGLE TOUR (1 hour, 15 min) We'll search for wintering bald eagles and also look for osprey, loons, herons, grebes, a wide variety of ducks, and more. Bring binoculars if you have some and be sure to dress for the weather. It is normally chillier and windier on the lake than it is on land-don't be afraid to bring too much warm clothing. Seating is limited. Reservations and tickets can be procured at the lodge front desk beginning January 25. Tickets are $8.50 adult, $4.50 children ages 6-12. Kids under 6 ride free. Please arrive 10-15 minutes early, because the boat must depart on time. Meet at the lodge.
5:00 PM- SHORELINE RESTAURANT OPENS.
6:00 PM- OPENING REMARKS (5 min) Park Interpreters, Kim Garland and Jason Parrie welcomes you to the 31st annual Eagles Et Cetera! Meet in the convention center.
6:00 PM- NATURE CALLS (45 min) Steve "Wildman" Wilson, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, kick starts the evening events by sharing his expertise in the art of wildlife calls. He will demonstrate the white-tail deer, elk and turkey to name a few. Steve will also share his vast knowledge of our beautiful state, you won't want to miss this. Meet in the convention center.
7:00 PM- WATCHABLE WILDLIFE (45 min) Regional Education Coordinator for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arlene Green, will share tips and information on watching our Arkansas wildlife. Meet in the convention center.
8:00 PM- OWL WORKSHOP (1 hour) The Little Rock Zoo shows off its collection of owls during this unique program. Zoo staff will teach you all about the amazing adaptations of these predators of the night while giving you the chance to meet many of them up close. Among other activities, you will also have a chance to dive into an owl pellet to discover what owls eat! Meet in the convention center.
NIGHT OWLS' OWL PROWL (30 min) This program will immediately follow the owl workshop. We will take a short walk into the woods to hoot up an owl and see if they answer. Meet in the convention center.
Saturday, January 30
6:00 AM- SHORELINE RESTAURANT OPENS.
7:00 AM- EAGLE TOURS (7 am-1 pm) Tours leave the lodge every hour on the hour. A limited number of seats may be reserved beginning Monday, January 25 at the lodge front desk. Beginning Friday, January 29, all tour reservations and tickets must be procured at the lodge front desk. See Friday, January 29 for tour details.
8:00 AM- GUIDED BIRD HIKE (1 hour) Expert birders Glenn and Evelyn Good take you through a choice of habitats ideal for bird watching. Length and location of hike determined by group size and interest. Meet in the lodge lobby.
9:00 AM- ACTIVITY ROOM (9am - 3pm) The activity room is chock full of things for kids to do. The park's collection of mounted raptors will be on display, games will be played and activities will be scheduled during this time. Please check the board outside the room for times. Meet in the eagle room.
BIRD POKER (throughout day) Pick your clues up to get in on winning a hand at poker. Use the clues to collect your cards to see if you have the winning hand. Clues and information will be available in the activity room, eagle room.
10:00 AM- RAPTOR REHAB AND EAGLE RELEASE (45 min) Rodney Paul, a certified raptor rehabilitator, gives you a glimpse into the challenges of healing injured raptors before they are released into the wild. Rodney will also release a rehabilitated juvenile bald eagle in front of the lodge, down by the lake. You don't want to miss this potentially once in a lifetime event! Meet in the convention center.
Saturday, January 30 (Continued)
11:00 AM- OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHY (45 min) Join Park Interpreter, Randy Pearson of Bull Shoals State Park while he shares his expertise in the art of photography. He will give tips on photographing wildlife and outdoor photography. Meet in the convention center.
1:00 PM- LIVE FALCONRY (1 ½ hours) Rusty Scarborough, falconer and Education Program Coordinator from the Gov. Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center, will take us through the world and art of falconry. You'll see raptors of all sizes. Meet in the convention center.
3:00 PM- LIVE RAPTOR MEET AND GREET (1 hour) Meet several owls, hawks and a bald eagle from the Little Rock Zoo. Handlers will be available to provide insight and answer questions. This is a great photo opportunity and chance to get closer to these magnificent birds than you've ever been before. Meet in the convention center.
GUIDED BIRD HIKE (1 hour) Glenn and Evelyn Good will again be available to take you through one of many choice of habitats ideal for bird watching. Length and location of hike determined by group size and interest. Meet in the lodge lobby.
4:00 PM- FOOD FOR THOUGHT (30 min) Park Interpreter, Kim Garland, will discuss how and what birds eat. We will discover how birds use their beaks and bills to eat their food and try some of the foods that they enjoy. We will also see how we have used some of those adaptations in everyday life. Meet in the convention center.
5:00 PM- SHORELINE RESTAURANT OPENS
6:00 PM- OWL ADVENTURE (45min) Whoooo likes owls? If you do, meet us tonight in the convention center to find out more about the owls that live at DeGray State Park. Then, we'll divide into two groups, one group will take a short walk into the woods to call some up and see if they'll answer, the other group will take a short boat tour across the lake to call some up. Please dress warmly for the weather and bring a flashlight if you have one. Meet in the convention center.
7:30 PM- NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT (45 min) Please join Johnny Cantrell, US Army Corps of Engineers, as he gives us a peek into the world of natural resource management and how it is a valuable tool in managing areas such as DeGray Lake. Meet in the convention center.
8:30 PM- LIVE BIRDS OF PREY SHOW (1 ½ hours) The cornerstone of this event! The Little Rock Zoo once again brings out a full array of birds including owls, hawks, falcons, vultures and a bald eagle. Be prepared for "oohs and ahs" and many photo opportunities as the zoo staff puts these wonderful birds through their paces. Meet in the convention center.
Online information can be found at www.degray.com.