Great Places for Eagle Watching

January is National Bald Eagle Watch Month – Celebrate at One of These Top Eagle-Watching Spots

01-04-2011 // Mary Burnette
Bald Eagle

Throngs of bald eagles from Alaska and Canada head south in the winter. Thanks to our national bird’s recovery from near extinction, those numbers are increasing. Hundreds of birds congregate each winter along waters in every state except Hawaii which is why the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducts their Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey from December 29, 2010 to Jan 12, 2011.

If you are looking for some great places to eagle-watch, the National Wildlife Federation recommends these locations around the country:

  • Klamath Basin on the California-Oregon border – largest concentration of wintering bald eagles in the Lower 48. As many as 1,000 eagles occupy the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge during the peak months of January and February.
  • Upper Skagit River Watershed in Northwest Washington – hundreds of eagles attracted by dead and dying salmon at the end of the spawning season. Numbers peak in late December and early January
  • Upper Mississippi River at Nelson Dewey State Park in Wisconsin – full of bald eagles in winter especially below the locks and dams.
  • Missouri Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge – lots of eagle perching along the main auto loop
  • Wolf Lodge Bay near Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho – full of migratory bald eagles when the Kokanee salmon start to spawn. They begin arriving in November with the largest concentrations in December and January
  • Quabbin Reservoir in Massacheusetts – one of the Northeast’s best-known winter eagle lookouts. Bald eagles were introduced here in the 1980s. Today, year-round resident eagles are joined by dozens more in winter. Numbers peak in February
  • Karl E. Mundt National Wildlife Refuge in South Dakota hosts anywhere from 50-200 bald eagles in winter. Begin arriving in October, numbers peak in December and January
  • New York’s Hudson River and Sullivan County, less than two-hour drive from Manhattan.
  • Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland – good eagle viewing in winter and throughout the year – healthy breeding population and high concentration of wintering eagles
  • Oklahoma’s River and Reservoirs – best viewing at Klaw Lake, Salt Plains Lake, and Keystone Reservoir

Before You Go: Eagle Etiquette
Keep in mind that human presence can stress the birds so follow these basic tips:

  • Stay in or near your vehicle at roadside viewing areas;
  • Move quickly and quietly to observation blinds where you will be hidden from the birds’ view;
  • Avoid making loud noises of any kind;
  • Use binoculars or a spotting scope to view the birds from a comfortable distance;
  • Never attempt to make an eagle fly
Related Resources
  • Wildlife Watch
    Participate in Wildlife Watch and let us know about the wildlife and plants you observe where you live. Wildlife Watch is a national, nature watching program created for people of all ages.

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