HONEY CREEK, Iowa (KMTV) — In the shadow of the Omaha skyline, just off I-29 near Honey Creek, Iowa, dozens of bald eagles perch in once flooded fields.
“In my lifetime I've probably only witnessed a couple incidents where I've viewed eagles from quite a distance,” Dr. Rudi Mitchell, Omaha Indian Nation said. “But the eagles that are here, it’s really a strange phenomenon. As Native Americans, we consider eagles a very important part of our culture. We have a high respect for eagles.”
It's likely the eagles are attracted to this field because it's an easy meal.
“What I've heard are the stories about a lot of fish from the flood that were stuck in those fields,” Denis Lewis, Director of Raptor Recovery said. “When there was water, they were alive and then it froze and the water receded. So, there’s a lot of dead fish in those fields. Eagles are great scavengers.”
“Our elders say it’s a blessing when they fly over us or if they come near our presence,” Dr. Mitchell said. “I'm very honored to be near them today.”
Thursday morning, we watched from a distance, careful not to disturb them.
“You don't want to spook these guys off prey,” Lewis said. “That dinner they're enjoying might be the difference between life and death sometimes.”
It's hard to guess how long the eagles will be here Lewis said. They may stay until breeding season in March. But if the food runs out and the water freezes up, they'll likely find a new home.
“It’s our national bird and I'm just thrilled to death that so many people are excited to see eagles,” Lewis said. “I just hope that never ends. It’s a really cool thing.”
She said they're starting to see lead poisoning in some eagles already this year. If you see an eagle having trouble flying or not moving give them a call so they can check on the eagle. Raptor Recovery can be reached at 1-866-888-7261.