Bye-bye whoopers, hello eagles

The Quivira  National Wildlife Refuge is again open to hunting. That means the last small flock of whooping cranes in the area migrated south.

Whoopers were around for about four weeks and in some amazing numbers. Many wildlife watchers got their first look at the endangered species. Many avid birders said they’d never seen more.

It’ll be a year others are compared to when viewing the big white birds for decades to come.

The same brutal cold that pushed the whoopers southward has brought nice numbers of bald eagles to the Arkansas Rivers in and around Wichita.  Eagles generally come to town when temperatures get cold enough to freeze their fishing areas at surrounding lakes. They can still find fish and waterfowl to eat along flowing sections of the river that are free of ice.

I got several phone calls and e-mails of eagles seen within the last few days at the usual places. That includes downtown and around most dams and major bridges over the Arkansas.

The birds will probably stay in the area until temperatures warm enough to open area lakes and reservoirs.

If you go looking for eagles  remember to drive safely. Accidents have happened and have been barely avoided by someone slamming on their brakes when they see an eagle in a tree or soaring over the river.

Oh, last summer I wrote a column on Ol’ Red, my 1995 Ford pick-up that has 270,000 miles and more rust than a junkyard.

I’m proud to say Ol’ Red started within five seconds on these recent cold mornings.

If only I was aging so gracefully.