official Eagle Day in Illinois celebrated
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Illinoisans privileged with more visiting eagles than any other
state in the continental United States
[JAN. 30, 2006]
CHICAGO -- On Saturday, Lt.
Gov. Pat Quinn joined Deshka, an 8-year-old bald eagle, to celebrate
Illinois' first official Eagle Day. Quinn encouraged citizens to
take advantage of a prime opportunity provided during the next few
weeks to witness the largest population of wintering bald eagles in
the continental United States as they roost in Illinois.
"The American bald eagle, designated as national
emblem of the United States on June 20, 1782, and placed on the
Great Seal of the state of Illinois in December 1818, is the living
symbol of our nation's freedoms, spirit and strength," said Quinn.
"Eagle Day is an opportunity for Illinois residents to celebrate
these magnificent birds who, despite facing extinction only a few
years ago due to pesticides, have made a stunning comeback."
was joined by Rep. John Fritchey, D-Chicago; Roger Shamley of the
Chicago Audubon Society; Laurene van Klan from the Peggy Notebaert
Nature Museum; Doug Stotz from the Field Museum of Natural History;
and George and Bernie Richter, Deshka's handlers.
Historically, the fourth Saturday of every January is among the
most active weekends for eagle viewing -- a fact that led Illinois
lawmakers to adopt a resolution in May 2005 officially designating
the fourth Saturday in January as Eagle Day in Illinois. The
legislation, sponsored by Fritchey and Sen. John Sullivan, reminds
families, school children and eagle enthusiasts to enjoy Illinois'
many eagle-related tourism opportunities.
"Why spend your money traveling to Wisconsin or Michigan when
Illinois is home to the largest population of wintering bald
eagles?" asked Quinn. "Our state can continue to reap massive
benefits of nature-based tourism dollars."
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Eagle watching is a thriving form of state tourism
in at least 27 Illinois counties and a fulfilling hobby for the more
than 2 million wildlife watchers from Illinois who are thrilled to
see so many eagles so close to home. The Illinois eagle population
is growing, as thousands of these magnificent birds make Illinois
their winter home before heading north to the upper Midwest and
Canada for spring nesting.
"For those who want to begin a family tradition of
winter eagle-watching this year, there are many options to explore,"
said Quinn, who listed several events: Bald Eagle Trolley Tours at
Starved Rock, continuing until the end of February; Eagle Watch
Clock Tower Tours in Rock Island, continuing through Feb. 19; and
the Eagle Meet and Greet in Alton.
Quinn has also led the effort to protect the habitat
of Illinois' bald eagles, particularly those eagles that faced a
developer's bulldozer on Plum Island near Starved Rock, just 85
miles from Chicago's Loop. Quinn joined with concerned citizens who
helped save Plum Island from development, and the land is still
available for eagles and their fans.
Eagle supporters can learn more about upcoming
eagle-watching events by visiting
[News release from the Illinois