Last event for longtime coordinator

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Clay Penhollow, left, assists Caden Gybel, 7, with locating an eagle above Lake Billy Chinook.Sisters Becca, 12, and Rachel McCann, 10, of Bend, had different approaches to enjoying the 19th annual Eagle Watch last weekend at PGE Overlook Park.

Becca, who is fascinated by raptors, raced through the free hotdog lunch to get on with making a bird house, while her younger sister savored a doughnut.

"It's interesting that we get to come here," said Becca, who had the opportunity to watch through a spotting scope as a golden eagle ate a fish. "It's a unique experience."

The McCanns, with their parents and grandparent, visiting from Chico, Calif., were among an estimated 800 people attending the event.

by: HOLLY M. GILL - John and Becca McCann, of Bend, work on building a bird house at the annual event. The McCanns were first-time attendees at Eagle Watch.The girls' parents, Stacey and John McCann, of Bend, also brought Stacey's parents, Bob and Marlene, from Chico, Calif., and were surprised to realize that they had all camped at the Cove 12 years ago, when they were passing through on their way from Canada back to Chico.

"We remembered the high bluffs and the river down below," said Stacey McCann, who was impressed with the event. "I think the whole thing is amazing."

Paul Patton, of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, who has been organizing the event since its inception in 1996, considered this year's event among the best of the past nearly two decades.

"It’s at least one of the top five weather weekends we’ve had," said Patton, noting there were about 450 attendees on Saturday and 350 on Sunday. "It wasn’t a record crowd, but it was right up there."

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Margie Tuckta, of the Quartz Creek Dancers, talks with Paul Patton, of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, who has organized Eagle Watch since its inception 19 years ago.Next year, Patton, who has been promoted to regional resource specialist for OPRD, will be turning over the reins to Erin Bennett, also with OPRD, at the Cove.

"She’ll do a great job; she’s got a lot of energy," said Patton. "It’s always good to have new blood and new ideas to keep it fresh and different enough so people don’t get tired of it."

The event is put on as a collaborative partnership among primary sponsors OPRD, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, and Portland General Electric, with numerous other sponsors, who provide food and beverages, man the tents in Eagle Village, and assist in a variety of ways — from helping children build birdhouses to leading birdwatching hikes.

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Jarvis Stwyer leads Julian, 4, and Joe Ray Stwyer, 3, in the Crow Hop on Sunday.On Saturday, Gary Landers, of Sisters, a wildlife bird rehabilitator, was named the recipient of the 2014 Order of the Eagle Award.

"He’s a good Eagle Watch supporter," said Patton, adding that over the years, Landers has "saved a lot of birds and reintroduced them into the wild."

Sunday's event was capped with the Confederated Tribes'cultural program, with special dancing and music by the Quartz Creek Drummers and Dancers.

Margie Tuckta, of Warm Springs, introduced the dances and explained the significance of the eagle feathers worn by many of the dancers.

"The eagle is a very revered bird for us," she said, pointing out that the feathers symbolize spiritual vision and "a guide to higher life."

Tuckta, whose group has been involved with the event for many years, praised Patton's work.

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Aquila, a 26-year-old blind golden eagle, was a popular attraction at Eagle Watch. "It’s been great working with him; he’s done a really good job putting things together and working with the tribes," she said.

Patton is confident that the event will continue to be successful. "When I drove out of there, I looked back and thought it’s been great," he said. "I won’t be planning it, but we’ll go out there and enjoy ourselves like everyone else."

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