POTTSBORO, TX - Our national bird is spending the winter right here in Texoma, and those who frequent the lake say the formerly endangered American bald eagles are growing in numbers.
Lake residents, like Gerald Diegle are thrilled to be living next door to the American Bald Eagle.
"I think it's just awesome, it's part of our heritage,” Diegle said.
To more than 300 million Americans, the Bald Eagle is symbol of freedom and prosperity, and for years now, dozens of the majestic birds have made Lake Texoma their winter home.
"The eagles didn't start coming in here, for us to get to really watch them until about 10 years ago, 11 years ago, and it seems like every year, there seems to be more coming back," said former Lake Texoma eagle tour guide JB Webb.
Since facing extinction just decades ago, the bald eagle population has stabilized, and Webb says the population has continued to increase over the past ten years.
"It's quadrupled, quadrupled. It used to be we'd see three or four out here in little mineral, and now you'll see six, ten," Webb said.
Each year, from December to March, the eagles perch in the bare trees along Lake Texoma's shoreline and soar across the water in search of food.
"It just reminds us of what our country's all about, and we see the bird on postage stamps and everything, and here we have them right in our own neighborhood all winter long, and it really is fun to go watch them," said Diegle’s wife, Mary.
The couple says they take pride in sharing their land with the American icons.
"Our symbol of our country is freedom, what have you, and to have it out here where we can go out at any given time, during the cold weather and see them is just really phenomenal to me," Gerald Dielge said.
He says the feeling is worth braving the cold, especially for those who haven't yet experienced it.
"They're missing something really majestic, if they don't take the time to go and just at least investigate the bird."