13th Annual Eagle Days

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Did you know that the wild turkey was almost designated the national bird?

That idea of course didn't stick and the bald eagle was adopted as our national symbol.

On Saturday hundreds attended the 13th Annual Eagle Days Celebration which took place at the Wyandotte County Lake Park.

"The bald eagle has been our national symbol since 1782 by the way over the objections of Benjamin Franklin and James Audobon," said Bill Whinery with Operation Wildlife.

It's an iconic image that almost never was.

"The reason given by Benjamin Franklin was that he considered the eagle a bird of ill repute he had seen one stealing a fish from an osprey," said Whinery.

Saturday hundreds came to Wyandotte County Lake Park to catch a glimpse.

"We read all sorts of books about animals and then when they get the opportunity to make a connection with a real animal it's something that sticks with them," said Emily Rietema, of Kansas City, Kan.

For the first time this year eagle day is a two day event celebrating the bald eagle and the conservation of the once endangered species.

Whinery helps rehabilitate sick birds and other animals.

"In the 1960's there was counted as only 417 nests in the lower 48 states and now there's over 10,000 through the efforts of people to first of all ban the really bad pesticides second to provide environments and to stay away from the birds when they're nesting," said Whinery.

He says we've come a long way, but we must stay vigilant for future generations.

"To be able to connect with nature you just feel alive in a different way," said Rietema.

And these folks agree that an eagle is way cooler than a turkey.

Eagle Days continues Sunday at Wyandotte County Lake from noon until four.

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