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Why West Kentucky Is A Favorite Winter Home For America’s National Bird

Matthew Ragen
123rf Stock Photo

  Not unlike the Philadelphia Eagles dominating the Super Bowl, a group of bald eagles are dominating Land Between The Lakes.

  On one of Kenlake Resort's Eagle Watch Tours, media members look out towards the shorelines of an icy Kentucky Lake. From the comfort's of the CQ Princess, a 96-foot-yacht, eager lakes area naturalists spend the entire ride showcasing LBL’s newest wildlife interest. They spot over a dozen bald eagles on the short ride up the lake.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stopped conducting annual surveys in 2007 because the population of the eagle had grown so substantially over the 20 years prior. West Kentucky is home to more than 130 bald eagles during the winter months -- more than anywhere else in the commonwealth, according to local naturalists.



But this is a relatively new development, LBL hasn’t always seen this many eagles. Kentucky Dam Village naturalist Aviva Yasgur said their comeback story is a happy one.


Yasgur said the pesticide DDT once poisoned several species of prey animals, which in turn, affected the population of the predators that hunted them.

“A lot of predators declined. Not only eagles, but almost every bird of prey. The eagles are the most famous ones, but tons of our different birds of prey have made a huge comeback.” Yasgur said.

The federal government deemed the deadly pesticide illegal in 1972 and the species began to rebound. Yasgur said a reintroduction program brought in young eagles from other parts of the United States where their populations remained high.


She said they flourished in Kentucky Lake because the habitat remained intact and ready for them to migrate each winter.

“You know we still have beautiful Kentucky Lake and forested shoreline and all the resources eagles need to survive. You know they’ve really flourished back in their habitat where they used to live.” She said.


Now that the eagles have repopulated and settled back into the area, Yasgur said the next hurdle will be letting the locals know about this hidden hotspot.

“The lakes area is one of the best places to see bald eagles in the southeastern United States. We’re just not that famous for it. Most people live here their whole lives and don’t realize they can come out to the lake and see 20 bald eagles in one day.” She said.

Yasgur said when winter turns to spring, these birds become harder to find. Some migrate back to the north and the ones that stay are hard to spot in the green leaves.


But, America’s favorite bird will return to it’s favorite winter vacationing spot when November rolls around again.

Taylor is a recent Murray State University graduate where she studied journalism and history. When she's not reporting for WKMS, she enjoys creative writing and traveling. She loves writing stories that involve diversity, local culture and history, nature and recreation, art and music, and national or local politics. If you have a news tip or idea, shoot her an email at!
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