The Daily Review/File Photo
A mature bald eagle perches in a tree, watching a canal for fish near Morgan City during the 2015 Eagle Expo.
Home of the bald eagle
Cajun Coast’s annual Eagle Expo will take a different look at St. Mary’s bald eagle populations this year. There will be more looking for eagles.
Organizers have added more of the popular boat tours through St. Mary waterways where bald eagles and their nests are regularly spotted.
This year’s events will be Feb. 22-23.
Those additional tours will replace the Saturday lectures at which experts talked about the biology of America’s national symbol and other bird species.
“More people wanted the boat tours,” said Carrie Stansbury, executive director of Cajun Coast Visitors and Convention Bureau staff.
“If people like (the presentations), we may bring them back. We needed to do something different and shake things up.”
As it was, Eagle Expo has drawn people from around Louisiana and neighboring areas such as Houston. Some of the visitors from more distant parts of the country were lured here by tourist center brochures on the way to other destinations.
They come to see something they couldn’t have seen 50 years ago: a thriving bald eagle population.
Bald eagles were once thought to prey on chickens and other domestic animals and were worth bounty money to people who killed them. After World War II, the introduction of DDT to control mosquitoes worked its way into the food chain of eagles and other bird species, rendering their egg shells thin and easily breakable.
By 1973, Louisiana had only five known nesting pairs of bald eagles, according to the Louisiana Audubon Society. Our national bird was on the endangered species list.
Strict federal protections passed in 1940 and a ban on DDT enacted in 1972 helped the bald eagle make a come-back.
In 1995, Louisiana had more than 350 nesting pairs, second only to Florida.
Bald eagles like to build their nests, which can weigh a ton, in trees near waterways where they can catch fish. The Atchafalaya Basin is key eagle habitat.
The Eagle Expo has four tours:
—Boat Tour 1, an Atchafalaya Basin Tour with John Burke.
Captain Caviar will tour into the Atchafalaya Basin.
1 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday.
—Boat Tour 2, Bayou Black Tour with Billy Gaston of Cajun Man’s Tours, who will journey into the backwater of Bayou Black, adding his special Cajun touch.
2 p.m. Saturday
—Boat Tour 3, Turtle Bayou Tour with LUMCON.
Journey into Turtle Bayou to view bald eagles and get a glimpse of an eagle nest.
10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday.
—Boat Tour 4, Bayou Long Tour with Captain Ivy. The Bayou Long Tour includes various waterways including Lake Verret, Bayou Magazille, Four Mile Bayou, Grassy Lake, Bayou Cheramie, Bayou Milhomme, and Lake Palourde.
9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Friday and 7:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Award-winning outdoors writer John Flores will speak at a Friday reception at the Visitors Center.
CC Lockwood will conduct a photography workshop Feb. 22. The class needs a minimum of 10 students and a maximum of 16.
The class includes a field trip to Bayou Black. Separate registration is required. For information, contact 225-245-5008, 227-763-1259 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Water & Nature Expo will again feature exhibits on nature and the outdoors. It will be Saturday at M.D. Shannon Elementary.
Wings to Soar will again be part of Eagle Expo, introducing audiences to birds of prey. John Stokes and Dale Kernahan will have special presentations at junior high schools in Morgan City, Franklin, Berwick and Franklin, and at the Patterson Civic Center for private school and home school students.
The Rotary Club of Morgan City sponsors the Wings to Soar event.
Registration for event packages range from $69 to $130.
For more information call 985-380-8224 or 800-256-2931 or www.cajuncoast.com/eagleexpo.
To purchase tickets: https://bontempstix.com/events/14th-annual-eagle-expo