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Bald Eagles, Fans, Gather in Iowa

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The Daily Gate City of Keokuk, Iowa, reports that American bald eagles, the only eagle native to North America, and their many fans will be gathering this Saturday and Sunday in Keokuk for the 27th annual Bald Eagle Appreciation Days event.

The national bird will be soaring above the mighty Mississippi while up to 8,000 eagle watchers gather to snap photos and share their love of this loyal bird of prey, who mates for life (unless, of course, a mate dies, in which case bald eagles don't waste time finding another suitable partner.) There is also a chance to see the eagles up close and personal at the live raptor show at the Plaza Cinema in the River CIty Mall on 300 Main st.

The two day event also includes the Native American Traders Row, which offers educational booths that provide historical context and interesting facts about the Native American history of the Keokuk region and the significance of the eagle to their heritage. The Night Eagle Singers from Wisconsin, a group founded 14-years ago in the Lake County, Illinois and Kenosha County, Wisconsin areas as a way for Native people living between Chicago and Milwaukee to gather and sing will be on hand to lead singing and dancing throughout the weekend. The group is comprised of Creek, Cherokee, Ojibwa, Potawatomi and Lakota families.

There are a bevy of activities and learning experiences planned for the weekend, such as children's pioneer activities on Saturday, a presentation by Jim Lamer, the manager of the Kibbe Field Station in Warsaw, Ill., about the invasion of Asian Carp in the Mississippi River System, and a presentation called "Edible Wild Plants and Mushrooms," about locally-found wild foods, and how to crack and shell hickory nuts, process acorns, and make lemonade out of sumac.

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All of this multidimensional learning and activity that's known as Bald Eagle Appreciation Days began in 1984 as a collaboration between the Keokuk Area Convention and Tourism Bureau, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and Lee County Conservation. This weekend, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Lee County Conservation Board, and both the Iowa and Illinois Department of Natural resources will be overseeing eagle observation points along the Mississippi River.