If you have sharp eyes and a love for birds, your help is needed at Sardis Lake, a big body of water between Batesville and Oxford.
Rangers need your help in counting eagles, the regal birds that are calling Sardis Lake come this winter.
"Well we need volunteers to come out and participate in the USGS Mid-Winter Bald Eagle Survey," said Shea Staten, a Sardis Lake natural resources specialist. "What we do is we go into six different locations and scout the tree lines for juvenile and mature bald eagles."
The count takes place on Saturday, Jan. 12. The rangers will give you breakfast, a t-shirt, and assign you to one of six areas of Sardis Lake to look for bald eagles.
"You have just as good a chance of seeing eagles at Clear Creek or Hurricane Landing as you would on the lower lake," Staten said.
Sardis is a lake with beautiful vistas. Not a lot of eagles are here. It is thought that between 2 and 10 of the majestic birds winter at Sardis Lake every year.
Do not be deceived, this is not an eagle-spotting festival. This is an attempt to count the few birds that do winter in Panola County.
The lake covers 100,000 acres, so it is a big job.
"What I suggest people do is to bring a pair of binoculars so that they can see far off," Staten said. "You will need them if you are looking for the mature bald eagles with their glistening white heads, and the juveniles you need a better look at as well a lot of times."
The airways and waterways of Sardis Lake in mid-January are crowded with a gorgeous variety of birds. White pelicans with wingspans as wide as nine-feet are wintering at the lake in big numbers, so are the gulls and the terns.
The eagles winter at Sardis Lake because the lake is like a buffet for the birds.
"Well it is excellent natural habitat for them," Staten said. "The lake provides fish they eat as well as soft shell turtles. Eagles are scavengers, but they will primarily eat off of fish and soft shell turtles."
You are much more likely to spy a seagull than an eagle. Should you show up for the eagle count, at the very least, you will have spent the morning in the gorgeous outdoors watching great blue herons sail across a beautiful lake and gazing on white pelicans that look like they just woke up and forgot to brush their feathers.
If you are lucky you just might be one to spy a bald eagle.
For more information on how to help with the eagle survey please contact Ranger Cody Scruggs at the Sardis Lake Field Office at 1-662-563-4531.
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