Now is the best time of year to see bald eagles at Box Elder County’s Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, but it’s difficult to get close to the large birds of prey.
Last Saturday, the Ogden Nature Center brought one of the majestic creatures to the refuge’s visitor center to give people an up-close look at our national bird.
Des Ta Te, a female bald eagle, has become the Ogden Nature Center’s most popular resident since coming there as a rescue 19 years ago. Originally from Canada, Des Ta Te was illegally shot when she was just three months old, a trauma that remains evident today as she is missing half of her right wing. While that incident rendered her flightless for the duration of her life, she has lived comfortably under the care of the dedicated staff at the nature center.
Her name was given to her years ago by a volunteer at the center, an Apache chief who developed a special bond with the bird. In the Apache language, Des Ta Te means “May the sun shine on your face and in your heart in a good way,” said Heidi Christensen, wildlife specialist at the Ogden Nature Center.
“It’s because he noticed how much she had sweetened up over time,” Christensen said.
She said that on the day he decided to bless her and officially name her, the man walked into her enclosure and placed his hand on her head, which the eagle allowed without protest.
“The rest of us can’t do that,” Christensen said. “She had a real connection with him that she hasn’t had with anyone else. She tolerates us, but there is zero love.”
Des Ta Te drew the biggest crowds to the refuge on Saturday, but she wasn’t the only attraction at the visitor center’s Eagle and Raptor Day. The Ogden Nature Center also brought two of its other avian residents, Sampson the red-tailed hawk and Amos, an American kestrel falcon.
The hundreds who visited also enjoyed bird-themed arts and crafts, and a spotting scope was set up on the deck to facilitate the viewing of birds in their natural setting on the refuge.