State Park is home to majestic birds
Bald Eagle captured in photo
The majestic spirit of the great
American Bald Eagle has been captured through the lens of a camera
belonging to Jo Ann Stewart of Union, Kentucky, and hangs in the
Tyson Library in Versailles.
When Louise Mitchell of Versailles was having some of her art
framed in a store in Kentucky to enter in the Southeastern Indiana
Art Guild show, she met Stewart, who was picking up a photograph
of a bald eagle she had framed.
Mitchell commented on the photo and thats when she found
out it had been taken by Stewart at the Versailles State Park.
She was thrilled with the beauty of wildlife captured through
the camera and wanted others to have the opportunity to see it.
Since Mitchell has various works of her own art hanging in the
Tyson Library gallery, she contacted Bill Poor, the director of
the library at Versailles and arranged for the bald eagle picture
to join her works. She was excited to make the connection so that
the public at large can enjoy the bald eagle that makes its home
in the Versailles State Park.
Stewart said she got the picture in the fall of 2008 while she
and a friend were kayaking on the Versailles State Park lake.
They were paddling along when her friend spied what she thought
was a bald eagle. She said they paddled very slowly up to the
creek area to take the picture.
While Stewarts real love is photography, she said she has
also been to five eagle watch weekend events around
the area. According to Stewart, she is somewhat of a naturalist
herself and would never disturb the eagles or their nests. She
believes that the picture she took is of a female bald eagle.
According to Ted Tapp, from the Department of Natural Resources,
property manager of the Versailles State Park, its okay
to take pictures of the wildlife at the park as long as you dont
damage their habitat in the process. He maintains that January
or February is the best time to spot bald eagles at the park,
as there are no leaves on the trees to keep them hidden.
These eagles stay year around, he noted. Tapp said
he and several others know where the nesting area is. However,
it is not something the ordinary person could find easily. He
noted, It is illegal to harass the wildlife or disturb their
nests found at the Versailles State Park.
While the bald eagle is no longer on the endangered species list,
there is still an effort to raise and release them in different
areas of Indiana. This program known as hacking began
at Monroe Lake in 1988. The first pair of bald eagles for that
program came from Minnesota. For the past five years, the Indiana
Department of Natural Resources has been able to track bald eagles
and find out where their nests are by flying over the areas in
helicopters. They are now aware of more and more nests and chicks
are working on building a population of bald eagles in Indiana.
According to Rex Watters, wildlife expert at Monroe Lake, the
hacking program is primarily funded by donations,
mostly from the donations made by people who check the box on
the bottom of their state tax form, saying they want some money
given to the non-game fund. Watters stated that the first nest
in the State of Indiana began at Monroe Lake. As a matter of fact,
John Castrale, non-game aviator and biologist, will soon be taking
another helicopter ride to different locations in the state to
continue tracking the habits of the bald eagle.
Watters told The Versailles Republican that hacking is a program
that actually formerly existed from 1985 to 1989. They took five-week-old
chicks, raised them, and then released them back to the wild when
the time was right, feeding them supplemental feedings until they
could establish their own feeding habits. Young eagles need to
have time to make an imprint on an area which they will later
come back to when fully mature to make their home there.
The pair of bald eagles that live in the Versailles State Park
at this time have been there for about five years, according to
Tapp, who noted, They just showed up. He further explained
about the bald eagle: both male and female look alike, having
the white head feathers and white feet. They generally stay in
the same area where they are born and raised. Pairs of eagles
stay together for the long haul and raise their young together.
The first year the pair was at the park, Tapp noted they made
a nest but laid no eggs. Every year since then, they have raised
at least two chicks in that same nest. A bald eagle is not fully
mature for up to 3-5 years and doesnt boast the white head
and feet until fully mature. Chicks stay with the parents for
quite some time. Tapp said younger chicks have been spotted in
the park. He said bald eagle pairs like to nest around large bodies
of water possibly because their diet is made up of mostly fish.
So if you want to experience wildlife at its best, take a trip
to the Versailles State Park. Be patient and most of all, respectful
to the eagles home. Or if you want to make sure you see
the eagles at the park, come to the Tyson Library to see the eagle
photo on display.
KAREN REYNOLDS PHOTOS
Pictured at left is a framed photo of a bald eagle that
has made its home at the Versailles State Park. This photo
now hangs in the Tyson Library for everyone to enjoy. It
was taken by Jo Ann Stewart of Union, Kentucky. Below: Ted
Tapp, property manager for the park, welcomes wildlife enthusiasts
to the park to see the beauty of wildlife in its natural
form. However, he cautions those visiting not to harass
the wildlife or disturb their nests. The park is located
east of Versailles off US 50.