Looking for something fun, maybe even a bit patriotic, to do with the family this coming weekend? How about the chance to see an American icon soaring free in the skies in Utah?
Bald Eagles are cause to celebrate!
National Bald Eagle Appreciation Day was January 26th, but the Division of Wildlife Resources is holding its annual Utah Bald Eagle Day, Saturday, February 9th, and you can be a part of it!
Bald Eagle Day costs nothing but time. You can watch for eagles at five locations across the state, and viewing times vary depending on the viewing site you visit. Here's where, according to Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources:
Salt Creek Waterfowl Management Area (Compton's Knoll), located about 10 miles northwest of Corinne.
Viewing at Salt Creek will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In addition to seeing the eagles at Salt Creek, you can also see a captive bald eagle that volunteers from the Ogden Nature Center will bring to the event. The captive eagle will be at the event from noon to 1 p.m. Make sure you bring your camera with you — this will be a great chance to take a picture of your kids standing next to a real bald eagle!
Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, located on the west side of Farmington at 1325 W. Glover Lane (925 South)
Viewing at Farmington Bay will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In addition to seeing eagles at the WMA, you might want to drop by the Great Salt Lake Nature Center. The center is at the north end of the WMA. Hands-on activities for children will begin at 9 a.m. and continue through most of the day. Live birds of prey will also be available to view. Members of HawkWatch International will show the raptors from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Fountain Green State Fish Hatchery, located east of Nephi
Viewing will take place at Fountain Green from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If you're coming from the north, you can reach the hatchery by taking Interstate 15 and exiting the freeway at the second Nephi exit (Exit 225). After exiting the freeway, turn east on state Route 132 and travel about 10 miles. About 1 mile before the city of Fountain Green, a Bald Eagle Day sign will point you to an access road that leads to the hatchery.
Once you reach the hatchery, you'll be given a driving map of the Sanpete Valley that highlights the best areas in the valley to view eagles. Literature, displays and bathroom facilities will also be available at the hatchery. Spotting scopes will be set-up at a viewing location about one mile from the hatchery where eagles often gather in a large tree.
Split Mountain/Green River, located north of Jensen and below the Dinosaur Quarry in Dinosaur National Monument (DNM).
Viewing will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
To reach the site, drive north from U.S. Highway 40 in Jensen on the road to the Dinosaur Quarry (state Route 149).
Your first stop should be at the staging area located just inside the DNM boundary. Displays and spotting scopes will be available at the staging area, and you might be able to see bald eagles and other raptors in the distance. Biologists will also be available to answer your questions.
You can also see live birds close up! Two live birds of prey will be on display at the staging area for part of the day. Their handlers usually bring the birds to the staging area in mid-morning. The hawks remain on display until the birds get fidgety and decide they don't want to cooperate with the crowds. Beginning at noon in the visitor center, one of the handlers will present a one-hour slide show about birds of prey.
From the staging area, biologists will direct you to other sites where you may have better views of eagles and other wildlife of interest. In past years, visitors have seen bald and golden eagles hunting and feeding, as well as prairie falcons, hawks, mule deer, river otters, pheasants, turkeys, sandhill cranes, porcupines, mergansers, Canada geese and other wildlife.
During your trip, you may want to stop and see the dinosaur bones and exhibits at Dinosaur National Monument. The Dinosaur Quarry and DNM's visitor center are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The visitor center also includes a small bookstore and warm bathrooms.
Cedar Valley, about four miles northwest of Cedar City
Viewing in Cedar Valley will take place from 9 a.m.–2 p.m.
You can find directions to all locations at the DWR's post about Bald Eagle Day with more information about individual spots for the event as well as handy tips about what to where and the best times to go.
Bald Eagles are a feathered national treasure
Bald Eagles are our national bird, and the only eagle unique to North America. Their wings span is around 7 feet, and they are powerful birds. Their favorite food is dead or dying fish. According to American Bald Eagle Information, "It's possible for bald eagles in the wild to live longer than thirty years, but the average lifespan is fifteen to twenty years. A captive eagle at West Stephentown, NY lived to be at least 48 years old."
Bald Eagles are still a rare and special sight in the wild, though through conservation efforts they have made their way back from being considered truly endangered. On June 28, 2007 the Department of Interior took the American bald eagle off the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened species. However, our bald eagles will still be protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act for Take of Eagles.
Bob Walters, Watchable Wildlife coordinator for the DWR, started Bald Eagle Day in 1990.
"I started Bald Eagle Day because I wanted to make people aware of the wildlife around them," Walters says. "I wanted to whet their appetite to see more."
And it appears to be working. Since it's beginning, Bald Eagle Day has become Utah's most well attended, and one of its most enjoyed, wildlife-viewing events.
"I think the event is still accomplishing its purpose," says Walters.
For more information about Bald Eagle Day, call Walters at 801-209- 5326, or Division of Wildlife Resources offices in Ogden, Springville, Vernal or Cedar City.
You can adopt an eagle (but you can't take her home with you!)
If your family is enthralled with these breathtaking birds, maybe you might consider adopting one... but don't run out and buy a giant bird cage for the family room! Through the charity Defenders of Wildlife you can symbolically adopt your own eagle to help support them.
How Your Adoption Helps Save Bald Eagles
- Supports the work of Defenders of Wildlife to ensure the protection of bald eagles under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
- Enables us to protect vital bald eagle habitat and to educate landowners on how their actions can affect eagles.
Depending on the size of your donation, you can get a photo and certificate, a plush eagle to hug, or a cuddly fleece blanket. If you take your family to Bald Eagle Day this weekend, the donation gifts can make a fun souvenir after and a good way to help teach a lesson about why we strive to help and protect our wildlife and care for our pets at home.
Bald eagles are worth our fascination
Whether you attend Bald Eagle Day with your family or spend it at home teaching your parakeet to sing the national anthem, here are some fun eagle facts to part with!
Bald Eagle Fun Facts
- At one time, the word "bald" meant "white," not hairless. (That's why bald eagles have white feathers... not featherless heads)
- An eagle's average weight is 10-14 pounds.
- Eagles sit at the top of the food chain, making them more vulnerable to toxic chemicals in the environment, since each link in the food chain tends to concentrate chemicals from the lower link. (source: American Bald Eagle Information)
- Eagles do not have vocal cords! Their high pitched twittering sound is produced in the syrinx, a bony chamber located where the trachea divides to go to the lungs.
- Have you heard the expression "eagle eyed?" An eagle's eye is almost as large as a human's, but its sharpness is at least four times that of a person with 20/20 vision! They can see a fish up to a mile away!
- The Great Seal of the United States features a bald eagle.
- When a bald eagle loses a feather on one wing, it will lose a feather on the other in order to keep its balance!
- Bald eagles can fly to an altitude of 10,000 feet
- Bald eagles have 7,000 feathers!
- Awww... Happy Valentine's Day, Eagle Lovers! Bald eagles are monogamous. That means once they find their partner, they mate for life. According to Journey North, both male and female help with nest building. Dad even helps sit on the eggs a little! Both parents raise the chicks, called eaglets.
- Bald eagles will use the same nest year after year, adding new sticks from time to time. It’s not unusual for one nest to weigh more than a ton! (That’s 2,000 pounds.) (source: Washington Post)