Soaring with eagles, in Westfield

Eagles. We've got them!.

Right in the neighborhood! Last week, there was a golden eagle enjoying its lunch as we drove through Ridgecrest.

We stopped the car, turned around and returned to watch as it devoured a small animal in a front lawn. (Editors note: see sidebar photo and correction!)

It wasn't shy. I got out of the car, opened the trunk, got the camera, returned to the car...and it didn't blink, even when Curt opened the window to take pictures.

In fact, the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife tells me that a record number of eagles are wintering in the Commonwealth, from the Berkshires to Cape Cod.

Some 76 bald eagles were counted here during an eagle survey, part of a nationwide study of the population.

Our national bird seems to like the Connecticut River, where a dozen were found along the banks, and the Quabbin Reservoir, which had 41. (That's the highest population in one area in the state.) Congamond Lake in Southwick is also home to one lone bald eagle.

Nationally, it's estimated that there are 15,000 bald eagles.

The golden eagle dining in Westfield must be one of two that have been documented at the Quabbin.

Eagles are here this winter because mild weather kept many bodies of water free of ice, enabling eagles to prey on fish, waterfowl and gulls. Basically, they travel until they find food, and this is as far south as they have to go this year.

More than 120 volunteers assisted the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife in counting our eagles. They had help from Mass Electric which offered helicopter time so biologists could access remote areas considered to be prime eagle habitats.

White Mahogany. People are really impressed with the House Chamber now that it's been almost completely renovated and restored to its original beauty. The wood, from floor to galley, is valuable white mahogany. The chamber itself is elliptical, 86 and 68 feet, and 45 feet high. The 160 members sit on the floor, with the Speaker at the podium. The area in front of the podium is called the well.

Cameras focus on the well, but never on the legislators in our seats.

There are three galleries--balconies overhanging the chamber--for press, special guests, and visitors.

There are five murals in the Chamber that will be restored this year. And, of course, the sacred cod hangs over our heads at the rear of the chamber.

Legislative Cost. What's the cost of a legislator? About $8.16 for every person in the state.

Home Page. Visit me. At celehahn.org on the world wide web. There's one page that's not finished...a look at Westfield and Montgomery. Your ideas would be appreciated.

Congratulations. To Westfield's Golden Chapter of the Order of Eastern Star. They're 125 years old this year.

Adoption. Mark your calendars, if you're interested in letting the state know your opinions. I'm on a special committee appointed by the Speaker to look at the adoption process and getting kids out of temporary homes and into permanent families. We'll be having a hearing in Springfield, tentatively scheduled for March 20th. If you're interested, let me know.

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