[ Up ] [ Eagle Brochure ] [ Tulsa World Article ]
The Tulsa Audubon Society has been a leader in the
protection of Bald Eagles for over 30 years. TAS also hosts annual
Eagle Days to provide the public an opportunity to observe feeding
Bald Eagles below Keystone Dam in January. TAS also own and maintains an
Eagle Sanctuary along Keystone Lake
(inaccessible to the public) for the protection of wintering Bald Eagles.
M. Sutton Avian Research Center has reintroduced a breeding
population of Bald Eagles into Oklahoma and other southern states.
Conservancy has established registry agreements with private
landowners, along the Arkansas River from Keystone Lake to Muskogee to
protect eagle roosting and nesting habitat.
Tulsa Audubon has published a brochure about the
Bald Eagle in Oklahoma, available here in a
web-page format or viewable as a PDF file.
The History of Bald Eagles On The Arkansas
When the Bald Eagle was formally adopted as our national emblem in 1782,
there were possibly as many as 20,000 nesting pairs in what is now the United
States. By the late 1800s, however, the Bald Eagle's U.S. breeding range had
shrunk to only Alaska, some Great Lakes states and Florida. The population
decline was the result of a number of reasons, including human encroachment and
habitat destruction, killing birds for trophies, killing them because they were
thought to be predators, and in later years, the widespread use of DDT which
caused their egg shells to thin and not hatch. In 1967 the Bald Eagle was
declared an endangered species.
Eagle Sanctuary Approximately 30 years ago the Tulsa Audubon Society realized that some Bald
Eagles were wintering around reservoirs built in the 1940s and 1950s in
northeastern Oklahoma. The eagles were especially attracted to the areas below
dams where it was easy to feed upon the injured fish coming through power
turbines. They also determined that the eagles around Keystone Lake, just west
of Tulsa, preferred to roost in one particular cove. After negotiations with the
owner of the land surrounding the cove, Tulsa Audubon raised the money to
purchase 105 acres to protect the site. This land is still owned by the Tulsa
Audubon Society. Each winter, weekly, from November 1 to April 1, Tulsa Audubon
volunteers count the roosting birds.
The eagle preserve, itself, is NOT open to the
public. Eagles are sensitive to human intrusion and their nesting success
depends on keeping people from getting to close. Our volunteers use a blind, constructed with the help of the
Tulsa District of the Corps of Engineers, located a safe distance from the
roost. The viewing area below the dam is open to the public, easily accessible
and a good spot to see the eagles feeding or sitting in the trees along the
river, without disturbing nesting activity.
Here for an article from the April 4, 1979 issue of the Tulsa World
about the eagle roost campaign, and the late Jack Miller, who donated a
painting of a Bald Eagle over Keystone Lake.
A huge boost for the eagles in
Oklahoma, as well as most of the lower 48 states, was a program of the
George M. Sutton Avian Center
in Bartlesville. Between 1984 and 1992 the Sutton Center raised and
released 275 Southern Bald Eagles in the southeastern U.S. Bald Eagle
eggs were removed from nests in Florida and transported to their captive
breeding facility in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Once there the eggs were
incubated, hatched, and the resulting eaglets were raised and released
in high quality habitat in five southeastern states. In many cases, the
captively-raised Bald Eagles have returned to their release sites to
establish territories and nests.
Thanks in large part to this
restoration work the Bald Eagle was removed from the endangered and
threatened species list on June 28, 2007!
The Sutton Center continues to monitor
eagles in Oklahoma, featuring a Bald Eagle Nest Cam and satellite
tracking of birds.
For more details on the Sutton Centers
ongoing Bald Eagle recovery program, visit the
Sutton Center Bald Eagle Restoration site to learn more about this
fascinating story and outstanding conservation success.
Eagle Days Tulsa Audubon
also realized that this natural resource was generally unknown
to the local population and commenced a program, each winter at Keystone Lake,
to educate the public and give them an opportunity to view the birds. This was
probably the first organized eagle-watching program in the state of Oklahoma. In
the 1980s this evolved into two days each January when guided tours, on buses
sponsored by the Tulsa World and the First National Bank, were given to the
better viewing sites down the river. Later, The Corps of Engineers constructed
improved parking and viewing areas below Keystone Dam, on the north side of the
In 2013 TAS moved out Eagle Days
program to south Tulsa, since Bald Eagles are now found nesting all long
the Aransas River. After view the wild eagles, we then have live bird
presentations at the Jenks Schools, hosted in partnership with the Jenks
High School Ornithology Club. The
Grey Snow Eagle House bring live eagle for participants to view up
close. These are birds that were injured (often shot) that survived
their injuries but are non-releasable. To this day we still have between
500-1,000 people coming out to see the eagles each year.
Eagle viewing has become popular since Tulsa Audubon started its public
program 30 years ago. Today, there are more than 20 parks, refuges and bird
watching organizations that have tours and programs each winter for this