USA -(Ammoland.com)- February is the best time of the year to see one of the country’s most iconic birds.
Bald eagles fly to Utah in the winter to find food and escape colder conditions farther north. By the time February arrives, hundreds of eagles are in the state.
You can see the eagles, and learn more about them, during Bald Eagle Month.
Matt Bartley, special events coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says the agency has expanded its former Bald Eagle Day to include several Saturdays of viewing.
“Holding viewing events at different times, in different parts of the state, will give folks across Utah the best chance to see the greatest number of eagles,” Bartley says.
In the past, the DWR held the event on a single Saturday in February.
“On the day we held the event,” he says, “some of the sites had good numbers of eagles while other sites had fewer birds. In some cases, eagles hadn’t arrived at the sites in good numbers yet. In other cases, they’d already come and gone. Holding the event on different Saturdays should increase the chance you see eagles on the day you attend.”
Seeing the eagles is free. You can see eagles during the following days and times:
Feb. 3 –
Rush Lake Ranch, 9600 North on the Minersville highway (SR-130). The ranch is about 12 miles north of Cedar City.
Viewing on Feb. 3 takes place from 8 a.m. to noon.
Feb. 10 –
Salt Creek Waterfowl Management Area (Compton’s Knoll), located about 10 miles northwest of Corinne
Viewing on Feb. 10 takes place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
To reach the Salt Creek WMA, exit Interstate 15 at Exit 365, and travel west on state Route 83 through Corinne. Stay on SR-83 until you get to 6800 West (Iowa String). Turn right on 6800 West, and travel north to 6800 North. Once you reach 6800 North, the WMA’s Compton’s Knoll Watchable Wildlife site will be on your left side.
Wasatch Audubon and the DWR are co-sponsoring the event at Salt Creek.
Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, located on the west side of Farmington at 1325 W. Glovers Lane (925 South)
Viewing on Feb. 10 takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The DWR and the Wild About Birds Nature Center in Layton are co-sponsoring the Farmington Bay event.
Fountain Green State Fish Hatchery, located east of Nephi
Viewing on Feb. 10 takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free tours of the Fountain Green State Fish Hatchery will also be offered.
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 one 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 receive 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 nearby location where eagles often gather in a large tree. The viewing site is about one mile from the hatchery.
Ouray National Wildlife Refuge, near the refuge headquarters in Randlett at 19001 E. Wildlife Refuge Road
Viewing on Feb. 24 takes place from 8 a.m. to noon.
To reach the site, travel on U.S. 40 about 14 miles west of Vernal, or about 13 miles east of Roosevelt, and turn south on state Route 88. Travel south on SR-88 for 14 miles, and then turn left into the refuge entrance. The refuge headquarters is one mile down the entrance road.
The Ouray National Wildlife Refuge and the DWR are co-sponsoring the event.
Get a Close Look
Bartley says spotting scopes will be available at each viewing site so you can get a good look at the eagles. “If you have any challenges spotting the eagles,” he says, “our biologists and volunteers will help you find them. We’d also be happy to answer any questions you have.”
You can also pick up a Bald Eagle Month button. Handouts and information about bald eagles, wildlife watching and birding opportunities in Utah will also be available.
The button and information are free.
Items to Bring
If you attend Bald Eagle Day, dress in warm clothes and bring waterproof boots. Also, if you want to take photos of the eagles, bring a telephoto lens.
“You need a telephoto lens to get good, close-up shots of the eagles,” Bartley says. “The eagles will be fairly close to the viewing sites, but you still need a telephoto lens to get good photos of them.”
If you have questions about Bald Eagle Month, call Division of Wildlife Resources offices in Ogden, Springville, Vernal or Cedar City.