2016 Year in Review: Lacy Kegley, Development Associate

It’s time to look back on 2016! Check our blog between Christmas and New Year’s for a variety of stories and memories of 2016 from the staff and volunteers of the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

My favorite memory of 2016 -- a year which has been a bit of a blur of events and projects -- is attending the release of Golden Eagle #16-1934 in my birthplace and hometown of Wytheville, Virginia. This Golden Eagle was a bit of a mystery. East Coast Golden Eagles are known to breed and nest in Canada in the summer and migrate down the Appalachians in the winter. This eagle, however, was found as a hatch-year bird in Saltville in August – long before migrants would be returning to our mountains.

So … what does this mean? How did this Golden Eagle get here? We still don’t know for sure, but, as we theorize, this bird could be a product of a project that took place several years ago as an effort to establish a local breeding population of Golden Eagles. If so, it worked! And Golden Eagle populations in the Eastern U.S. are on the rise in southwest Virginia, where both this Golden Eagle and I were born!

Not only was it really special seeing this bird released by none other than our dear Dr. Dave McRuer, it was also a special experience to see how the Wildlife Center makes a difference and being able to share this memory with my family. The eagle was released on the Monday following Thanksgiving and, initially, I hadn’t planned to go home to see my family that weekend, as it is our custom to alternate holidays with my and my husband’s families. It turned out to be wonderful weather, smooth driving, and great time spent with my parents and siblings.

Maybe it was the time of year, spending time with my family, or the emotion of seeing the young Golden Eagle fly out toward my hometown (and then circle back around to the other side of the ridge), but it was an experience that will stay with me for years to come.

Attached is a photo from the newspaper back home - my brother’s photo of the release made the front page!


Keep checking the Wildlife Center's blog for more year-end posts this week!