IF YOU GO

What: “Rachel Carson: The Wonder of Nature”

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: San Juan College Little Theater, 4601 College Blvd.

More info: Contact the San Juan College Box Office at 505-566-3430.

FARMINGTON — Walking beside the Animas River now, people might see a bald eagle perched in a tree or swooping down to get a fish.

In the 1960s, however, biologists wondered if the bald eagle would survive. Less than 500 nesting pairs remained in 1963. Some mysterious force was driving the birds to extinction.

And then Rachel Carson, a marine biologist, published her book "Silent Spring." The book took its title from the loss of song birds Carson had observed. In "Silent Spring," Carson documented the effect the pesticide DDT had on bird eggs, especially bald eagles.

DDT was transferred from the soil to the water systems, where it got into the fish that the bald eagles ate. When the eagles laid their eggs, the shells were too thin. The females would attempt to incubate the eggs, crushing them beneath their own body weight.

Ann Beyke, an actress from Albuquerque, will portray Rachel Carson in a Chautauqua performance today at 7 p.m. at the San Juan College Little Theater.

Beyke said "Silent Spring" helped lead to a ban on DDT.

"I feel like that affected everyone in the United States," Beyke said.

Beyke said Carson was acutely aware of the impact that chemicals had on wildlife.

"I feel like the more we know about history and how people impact history, the better we are capable to care for our earth," Beyke said.

Hannah Grover covers arts and religion for the Farmington Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her on twitter @hmgrover.