“After the pesticide DDT was banned in 1972, combined with habitat preservation, nesting numbers went from just 400 pairs across the entire lower 48 states to close to 200 now in Iowa alone,” Matt Wetrich says of the bald eagle, the national bird of the United States since 1782. The Jefferson resident never tires of photographing these magnificent creatures.“Bald eagles are the earliest nesting species of bird in Iowa,” Wetrich says. “Pair bonding behaviors can be seen in early January. One to three eggs are typically laid in late January and February, and are incubated for 35 to 40 days. Around 75 days old, young will take their first flight. It takes five years for bald eagles to acquire their white heads and tails.” “Today,” Wetrich says, “the threat of lead poisoning from scavenging on gut piles and wounded animals from hunting pose the greatest threat to a variety of wildlife. Sportsmen can prevent unnecessary eagle deaths by using non-toxic ammunition when hunting.”

E PLURIBUS UNUM (Out of many, one)

Local bald eagle photos by Matt Wetrich

“In the eyes of many in the world, this every-four-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle,” President Ronald Reagan said in his first inaugural address, exactly 40 years ago Wednesday.

Yet, this time, it took the deployment of 26,000 National Guard members and the installation of no-scale fencing around the U.S. Capitol to pull off the miracle.

The events of the past few weeks have shaken most, if not all, of us to the core. We witnessed in horror a deadly riot at the Capitol egged on by the outgoing president, Donald Trump. We listened as Congress debated the merits of impeaching that president for a second time, and we waded into furious arguments of our own on social media. Then we held our collective breath Wednesday as Joe Biden recited the oath of office as the nation’s 46th president.

This was anything but a peaceful transition of power.

So, then, what’s next? Will we stand united or fall, hopelessly divided by the misinformation of snake-oil salesmen and false prophets?

Our national symbol since 1782, the bald eagle, once faced grave uncertainty as well.

The pesticide DDT took the bald eagle to the brink of extinction in the 1960s. But conservation efforts enabled the bald eagle to rebound in such numbers that it was taken off the endangered species list in 2007.

Now, bald eagles are a familiar sight in the skies of Greene County, most notably in the areas around Squirrel Hollow, the Jefferson Community Golf Course and Dunbar Slough Wildlife Area.

The sight of one — fittingly, they seem to be most active this time of year — never gets old.

May we ever look upon our democratic ideals as dearly.

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Jefferson Bee & Herald
Address: 200 N. Wilson St.
Jefferson, IA 50129

Phone:(515) 386-4161