Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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 The Globe-Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
February 26, 2016

National Eagle Center visitor wows Mason Cityans
by Courtney Fiorini

Good Shepherd Care Center of Mason City brought in a bald eagle Friday for a presentation from the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota.

A crowd of more than 100 residents from Cornerstone Assisted Living Center, Good Shepherd and Kentucky Ridge were in attendance.

“We had thought about taking a day trip up there and getting a motor coach but the bus would only hold 50 people,” said Nancy Christensen, an activity director at Cornerstone Assisted Living. “So we decided to just combine facilities, share the cost and more people can enjoy it.”

In order to raise funds, each center baked pies.

“It took 13 minutes to sell 55 pies,” Christensen said.

On Friday, the National Eagle Center’s CJ Jacobson discussed the history of the eagle as a national symbol as well as the reduction of the eagle population caused by the pesticide DDT.

By the 1950s, only 412 nesting pairs were found in the 48 continental states.

DDT was later banned and the eagle population began to rise. After Alaska, Minnesota and Florida compete for the highest bald eagle populations in the country.

“It’s a great comeback story,” said Bucky Flores, also of the Eagle Center.

Jacobson brought out the main attraction to the delight of the crowd, Was’aka, an adult male baldy weighing about 6 pounds. Was’aka is a Dakota Indian word meaning “strength.” He was found outside of the nest as a chick with an injury that caused blindness in his left eye.

Jacobson fed Was’aka a large piece of raw fish and paraded him around. Every once in a while, Was’aka would test his wings a bit, opening them to their full span as Jacobson held him.

“I never saw them when I was a kid so being able to walk in the door and have eagles there everyday, I never get tired of it,” Jacobson said. “It’s an honor and a thrill every time.”

Jacobson said it takes a while to get the eagle to the point where Was’aka is, a working relationship between trainer and bird.

“I love Was’aka. Was’aka doesn’t love me. I’m a good source of food for him but he does have to trust me,”

Flores answered questions from the audience and listened as some shared stories of eagle sightings.

“This was pretty amazing. This was an incredible crowd with a lot of questions,” Jacobson said.

Photograph courtesy of The Globe-Gazette
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, March of 2016

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