to Protect Eagle Roost Nears Goal
Tulsa World, April 4, 1979
of the great birds have left the area, returned far north to nesting
sites where they will attempt to raise young during the summer season.
in Oklahoma, where they spend their winters, the work goes onto save
BALD EAGLE IS THE symbol of this nation, and still an endangered
1782, when the eagle was adopted as our nation's badge of fierce
independence, a standard for the American free spirit, they roamed the
skies at will. They inhabited the land from sea to sea, north to
south, in great numbers.
now estimated that less than 4,000 bald eagles are left in the lower 48
states. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oklahoma
provides a winter Haven for approximately 600 birds, most-of them around
our huge man-made lakes, with abundant forage in the shape of fish, and
rugged, often inaccessible shoreline terrain for protection.
here in northeast Oklahoma are one of the more fortunate areas.
For if you really want to, you have little trouble seeing one of these
magnificent creatures in the wild each season.
THEY HAVE PLENTY OF friends here, as the Tulsa Audubon Society is
closing in on a goal to save a vital winter roosting area along the
shores. of Lake Keystone.
local organization has already raised an impressive $140,000 which has
been used to purchase some 102.5 acres of land along the lake. They need
but some $10,000 more to reach their announced goal, and make good on an
undertaking which few local organizations would ever have tackled.
Several Tulsa members have been instrumental
in the campaign, including Jerry Crowley, Neil Garrison and Dick Sherry.
The club began working three years ago to protect this vital habitat,
which is in the form of rugged Osage County country, thick blackjacks
and steep canyons overlooking the lake. It's an ideal and favorite
spot for the birds after they migrate into the area early each fall.
AT THE PEAK TIME THIS past winter, there
were as many as 40 to 50 birds in the area," Sherry recalls.
"Numbers were down just a bit from the winter before, when we often
counted as many as 60. This is one of the most important wintering
roosts in the southwest now."
Audubon members first learned that plans
were being made to sell the land, and turn it into yet another"
"We knew that if something was not done
this area would go the same way that too many other sites in northeast
Oklahoma have," Sherry said.
He explained that there used to a huge
roosting area at Grand Lake. In the early 1960's, as many as 180
eagles were using one single roost at the lake. However, another
housing development came in and the birds were forced to abandon that
prime winter fishing ground. Now, Audubon members say only one
small roost containing a half-dozen or so birds remains on that entire
"EAGLES MUST HAVE PROTECTION from human
disturbance and encroachment, or they'll simply leave an area,"
Sherry says. "They are not as adaptable to habitat
alterations, as say the coyote and the house sparrow. To insure
the eagle's continued existence, we must protect sites such as the
Although persons are not allowed to wander
indiscriminately around the roosting area in the winter, the Tulsa
Society holds regular "eagle watching tours" out there during
the peak months. usually December through February. Then,
interested persons can easily see large numbers of birds feeding on fish
below the dam at Keystone.
One of the ways the Society has been raising
funds in the campaign is through sale of a beautiful, original piece of
Jack Miller is
a part-time artist, employed full-time by the architectural engineering
section of Public Service Co. His works are on display throughout the
U.S., South America, even Russia, and in no less than the Library of
Congress. Sherry had seen his work, and approached him to do a
WORK DEPICTS ONE of the huge birds soaring high over 'Lake Keystone,
with the roosting area below. If you look real close in this
remarkable painting, you can even see some birds perched below in the
bare, winter blackjacks. A total of only 999 prints have been
reproduced from the original oil, all signed and numbered by Miller,
There are approximately 400 remaining.
artist, who is not an Audubon member, donated this entire project to the
campaign. It has generated a good deal of funds, both through
individual contributions, and from companies.
one of these prints has been popular with a lot of firms and companies
in the area," Sherry noted. "It does make a beautiful
addition to a lobby or office wall, and denotes that the firm has made a
real commitment to helping wildlife too.”
major share of the success of the campaign though must go to one man,
and one very anonymous donation.
POINTS OUT THAT Joseph H. Williams, chairman of the Williams Company, is
serving as honorary chairman of the drive, and was "very
instrumental in helping us secure the big donation."
one crucial, down-to-the-wire point in the drive, when it looked as if
the Society would not be able to come up with enough funds to purchase
the land, that "anonymous foundation" came through with a
grant of $124,000.
and others working on the project hope to have all funds in the bank by
the end of June. The eagle prints remain their major way to do
donation of $100 or more to the drive will secure one of these limited
edition prints. They are mailed in large, heavy manila envelope,
unframed. To secure one, send contributions to P.O. Box 2476,
Tulsa, Ok. 74101. Checks should be made out "National Audubon
Society, Tulsa Eagle Project." All contributions-of course are
AND COMMITMENTS such as this one have helped boost the local Audubon
Society into the forefront of conservation work in this area.
a local organization with about 200 members four years ago, they now
boast membership rolls of approximately 500 persons. They meet the
third Friday of each month in the central library, and hold various
nature hikes, outings, and club functions throughout the year. If you're
interested in learning more about the Society and its activities, they
welcome you to contact the membership chairman, Mrs. Louis Bentley,