The population of eagles in Illinois has hit record numbers in recent years, and conservationists are celebrating the bird's success this weekend.
The Nature Conservancy will host Eagle Day on Saturday at the Emiquon Preserve and other sites in central Illinois. Jason Beverlin, deputy director of the Conservancy, said part of the idea is to help Illinois families understand how programs such as the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund help protect the birds' homes.
"We have experts on hand to talk a little bit about the importance of protecting these areas," he said. "There's things like the LWCF and other programs that are out there that help preserve these lands."
Beverlin said more than 200 eagles recently were spotted on the Emiquon Preserve, and he's hoping they will show up for Saturday's event. In nearby Havana, the World Bird Sanctuary will host a free show featuring large birds of prey.
Beverlin credited a decades-old ban on the use of the pesticide DDT and cleaning up Illinois waterways as some of the reasons for the bald eagle's resurgence. He said the birds have become a popular attraction in the state.
"It's a big, majestic-looking bird," he said. "If we're lucky on Eagle Day and we can see a bunch of them, when you see these numbers of them, I don't care who you are, you cannot help but be impressed by it."
All four Eagle Day events will be free. More information is online at ExperienceEmiquon.com.