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Council chambers packed with eagle fans

The City Council Chambers were packed with Eagle Festival participants Saturday when the highlight of the show was Sarvey Wildlife Centers live performance by a bald eagle named Freedom, a golden and three types of owls. -
The City Council Chambers were packed with Eagle Festival participants Saturday when the highlight of the show was Sarvey Wildlife Centers live performance by a bald eagle named Freedom, a golden and three types of owls.
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ARLINGTON Eagles like to eat ducks, too. Thats just one of many tidbits of information visitors may have learned from experts at the Arlington Eagle Festival Saturday.
The eagles did just exactly what they are supposed to do, said Jen Sevigny, a wildlife biologist with the Stillaguamish Tribe.
We saw one eat a duck, she reported upon returning to City Hall from Hat Slough. She had arranged for experts from the Nature Conservancy to be at the mouth of the Stillaguamish River to explain to visitors about the eagles and their habitat.
We saw 11 eagles at the estuary and 17 along Norman Road on the way back, she added.
The Council Chambers were packed with eagle enthusiasts who started to gather at 10:30 a.m. with folks anxiously waiting for the arrival of the live eagles brought from Sarvey Wildlife Center.
Before the program started at 1 p.m. visitors enjoyed viewing displays by several different environmental organizations, including Pilchuck Audubon, Conservation Northwest and an art show that included pen and ink drawings of eagles by Pat Deloney and Rocky Barrick, a freshly painted eagle by Harry Engstrom, a watercolor of an eagle over Pilchuck Mountain by Carey Waterworth, a Helen Lueken original painting, and a large portrait of an eagle by Verena Schwippert, which was on loan by the Arlington High School. The art show was coordinated by the Arlington Arts Council, which acquired Schwipperts painting for AHS in 2003.
Sarveys speaker, Kestral Skyhawk, put on a good show, first affirming her name did not come from hippy parents. She and her helpers showed the crowd of about 200 people three different owls before bringing out a red-tailed hawk and then the popular bald eagle named Freedom and a very chatty golden eagle. She showed the crowd a barn owl, a great horned owl and a little screech owl, pointing out that the screech owl is the quiet one of the bunch.
They really misnamed the little one, she laughed.
Skyhawk offered background on Sarvey, explaining its purpose of rescuing injured wildlife of the Pacific Northwest with the hope of releasing them after they have healed. She encouraged people not to try their own rescue services which often ends up creating a psychologically damaged creature, she said.
Following the Sarvey presentation, Libby Mills shared more information about eagles and their lives in the greater Pacific Northwest.
Someone asked me recently, where do they go when they are not here, Mills said, adding that these eagles tend to wander around from the Nisqually River estuary south of Tacoma north to Breckendale in British Columbia.
A resident of Padilla Bay who works with North Cascades Institute, Mills has been observing eagles in the region for more than 20 years and has seen the resurgence, from 180 pairs in 1980 to about 650 pairs now.
One young man who spent the day at the event, Connor Tilley said he enjoyed the festival. Its been very interesting, he said.
The eagle festival totally exceeded our expectations, said Bill Blake, natural resource manager for the city of Arlington, who worked with the citys economic development manager, Vic Ericson, and recreation coordinator Sarah Hegge as well as the chair of the Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission, Virginia Hatch, in planning the event.
When I got back from the river and saw the room filled with standing room only, I was thrilled. It just shows me that people care about animals and want to protect their habitat, Blake said.
Ericson pondered the results of the day while listening to Tim McHughs music at the Mirkwoods Shire Cafe.
I think it was a success, he said. Considering we just started planning in December, I think we pulled it off, thanks to a lot of good help.

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