Birds were frequent visitors to the trees around our house in the country. I even purchased a bird watcher’s guide to better understand what they were and what they were about. There was a year-round parade of hawks, owls, hummingbirds, geese, robins, orioles and sparrows. I particularly enjoyed watching their individual eating and nesting habits, especially the geese. Not so much since moving to town. That is, not so much until recently.

White-winged doves appeared first, not in huge numbers but enough to warrant watching, especially after I learned they are not native to our area. As days got colder, gulls, yes, gulls arrived in large numbers. These are not just any gulls but are Bonaparte gulls in their white winter plumage. They fly up and down the river every morning looking for food. Gulls are not entirely new since I have enjoyed them on Carolina beaches. Then, when these two bird species were becoming ordinary fare, a magical thing happened. Eagles began to appear.

Bald eagles, our national bird, have been spotted right here near the river behind the community center. I know that eagles are in abundance at the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, 60 miles north of us, but I had not expected more than an occasional sighting around here. Every day there are one to five eagles searching for their meals while perched in the dead trees along the river in Landing Park. Best viewing times seem to be after first light until noon.

I may have to upgrade my binoculars. What a sight.

Jim McKinney is a resident of downtown Leavenworth.