Bald eagle spotted at Lakeside Golf Course

The bald eagle was sitting in the top of a tree on the edge of Lexington's Lakeside Golf Course, polishing off one of the seagulls that reside at the adjacent Jacobson Reservoir.

After a while, it spread its wings and headed across the water, dropping a seagull wing that apparently had too many feathers and not enough meat (the other wing was found on the ground about 50 yards away).

After several years of reported sightings, a bald eagle finally made an appearance in Lexington this week within range of a newspaper photographer with a long lens.

This eagle is probably the one spotted in late December by a Kentucky American Water employee who captured it with his cell phone camera, said Susan Lancho, a spokeswoman for the company.

She consulted with Dillard Griffin, who is manager of the utility's field operations and the head of the local Audubon Society chapter, who said employees have seen only one bird, and no evidence of a nest.

But, although Jacobson is one of the smallest reservoirs in the state, it could conceivably become home to a nesting pair of the national symbol, said Kate Heyden, an avian biologist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

Most historical records for bald eagles were from the far western part of the state, along the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.

They were driven to the brink of extinction in the lower 48 states by destruction of their habitat and the pesticide DDT, which made their egg shells so thin that they broke before hatching.

No eaglets were hatched in Kentucky between 1949 and 1989. But last year, wildlife officials found 56 nesting pairs, which they think produced about 60 eaglets, Heyden said.

Among the places they are now found are Cave Run Lake and Yatesville Lake in Eastern Kentucky. Those lakes wouldn't have historical records because they didn't exist until the last several decades.

About 300 to 400 bald eagles spend their winters in Kentucky, which apparently is what the one at Jacobson Reservoir is doing.

DDT was banned in 1972. There still was so much of it in the environment that when the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973, the eagle topped the list of endangered species. Now eagles are making a comeback, and they were dropped from the list three years ago.

Heyden said she regularly receives excited calls about bald eagle sightings.

"People don't realize they are doing pretty well," she said.

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