During the winter months, the refuge slows down. We are closed for public use from December to mid-April. However, that doesn’t mean we are hibernating. Since we have a strong research program here at the refuge, all of the data that has been collected throughout the warmer months is compiled, analyzed and then reports are written. We hope to publish our research in scientific journals.
In addition to the biology side of things, our prescribed fire program is busy writing their burn plan for 2013. Our fire program also hosts and instructs a prescribed fire refresher course for wildland firefighters from around the state and region during the winter months. All of these activities help us accomplish the mission of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which is to protect and conserve habitat for wildlife, so that it may be enjoyed by future generations.
And perhaps there is no other wild animal that inspires more awe and respect than our nation’s symbol, the bald eagle. So it is with that statement that I am thrilled to announce that the refuge finally has a pair of bald eagles nesting at Old Timbers Lake! After years of anticipation and speculation as to when it might happen, refuge staff spotted a nest under construction in mid- December. As of today, March 11th, the birds are sitting on eggs. Of course we are still cautious about calling this a success until we see the fledgling eaglets make their first flights from the nest later this spring. For years we’ve had questions about eagles at the lake and my answer has always been that they are coming. It was just a matter of time, since there are successful nests at both Versailles State Park and at Brush Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area near Butlerville, both of these state areas are just a few miles from Old Timbers Lake. It only stands to reason that the birds would see Old Timbers as another suitable location to take up residence. Having the birds nesting here is a real thrill for all of us here at the refuge!