Visitors to the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Berks County will be given a unique opportunity for an up-close look at a bald eagle.
The Carbon County Environmental Education Center will be on hand at the sanctuary for a free presentation as part of Hawk Mountain's annual Bald Eagle Migration Day on Saturday. The event is scheduled for 2 p.m. in the outdoor amphitheater, or indoors if it rains.
The day is designed to remind visitors that late August and early September can be the best time to see bald eagles in the wild as they migrate south past the sanctuary lookouts.
"Eagles are on the rise, and now more than ever you have a chance of seeing one at Hawk Mountain," said Mary Linkevich, a spokeswoman for the sanctuary. "In fact, on Wed., Aug. 14, several members counted 21 bald eagles."
Children who walk with an adult to the lookout can take part in a simple eagle counting activity, tallying the number of eagles that pass and noting the time, just like the sanctuary biologists.
Children who return their activity sheet to the visitor center will have their name entered to win a special bald eagle-themed prize.
Last week, the Pennsylvania Game Commission announced that it may soon remove the bald eagle from the state's list of "threatened" species, upgrading it to "protected" status.
The numbers of bald eagles, and the number of places they can be found in the state, have been steadily increasing, officials said.
Regardless of its status in the state, officials said the bald eagle will continue to be protected under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (the Eagle Act), the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Lacey Act.
Under the Eagle Act, those who harm or disturb eagles are subject to a civil penalty of up to one year in jail or a $5,000 fine for their first offense, and criminal convictions can result in fines as high as $250,000, officials said.