Readers’ favorite places to watch eagles
Published: December 4, 2009
To view our map of readers' favorite hotspots for eagles click here.
|Last August and September, we asked readers of Birder's World Magazine to tell us their favorite places in North America to see eagles. More than 1,500 eagle watchers responded, casting more than 6,700 votes. Their favorite places are plotted on the map above and listed below.|
An article in the February 2010 issue of Birder's World (now BirdWatching) describes our readers' favorite place to watch eagles -- Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve in Haines, Alaska. Subscribers will have full access to the article, along with the rest of the February issue, online. You can, too! Subscribe to BirdWatching!
Congratulations to our binocular winner!
Each survey participant was entered into a drawing for a Nikon Monarch 8x36 binocular provided by our generous partner, Nikon Sport Optics. Nikon and we were happy to award the binoculars to Janice Gabriel of Dallas, Texas. Read about Janice here.
For more information about Nikon Sport Optics, visit www.NikonBirding.com.
See our readers' favorite places to watch warblers.
See our readers' favorite places to watch hummingbirds.
See our readers' favorite places to watch shorebirds.
Our readers' favorite places to watch eagles:
1. Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, Haines, AK
Our readers' favorite place to watch Bald Eagles: 48,000 acres of bottomland along the Chilkat, Kleheni, and Tsirku Rivers and the world’s largest concentration of Bald Eagles. An underground reservoir in an alluvial fan keeps a mile-long stretch of the Chilkat ice-free, providing access to a unique winter run of spawning salmon. The city of Haines hosts an annual festival.
Read more: "Eagles of Chilkat" by Bill Sherwonit, Birder's World, October 1998, p. 32
Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve (Alaska Department of Natural Resources)
Alaska Bald Eagle Festival in Haines
Map: Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve Management Plan Boundary (Alaska Department of Natural Resources, downloadable pdf)
2. Mississippi River from Hastings, MN, to Keokuk, IA
The locks and dams along the Upper Mississippi River are well-known winter gathering spots for eagles. Together, Locks and Dams Nos. 2-19, between Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, and Keokuk, Iowa, were our readers' second favorite place to see eagles.
Eagle-watching along the Upper Mississippi River (Midwest Weekends)
3. Kenai Peninsula, AK (Soldotna, Seward)
You will find eagles just about everywhere here -- around Kenai Lake, along the Kenai River, all around the town of Seward, in and about beautiful Resurrection Bay. Kenai Fjords National Park is located just outside Seward, 126 miles south of Anchorage.
Kenai Fjords NP
500 Adams Street
Seward, AK 99664
5. Cape May, NJ
The well-known site of the World Series of Birding and the home of Birder's World Contributing Editor Pete Dunne, Cape May is also a great place for watching eagles. Through 2008, an average of 112 Bald Eagles and 13 Golden Eagles have been tallied each year at the HawkWatch platform in Cape May Point State Park. The count runs annually from September 1 to November 30.
Read more: "Cape May Mystique" (Birding Hotspot) by Pete Dunne, Birder's World, October 2005, p. 22
Hawk Watch at Cape May Point State Park
6. Puget Sound and San Juan Islands, WA
Abundant fish and marine life, waterbirds, and extensive forested shorelines provide excellent habitat for Bald Eagles. In fact, nesting habitat around Puget Sound and other marine coasts may be near saturation. San Juan is the second largest island in the archipelago of the same name. San Juan Island National Historical Park (1,752 acres) is the second largest protected public space in the San Juans. Bald Eagles are common. Look for the nest along the entrance drive.
San Juan Island National Historical Park
7. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Kempton, PA
The world's first refuge for birds of prey and just a superb place to watch eagles. Every autumn, large numbers join in the parade of hawks and falcons that zoom past the sanctuary's famous lookouts. More than 180 Bald Eagles and over 40 Golden Eagles have already been counted this year -- and more are sure to come!
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
8. Delaware Water Gap NRA, NJ and PA
Almost 70,000 acres of land lining the shores of the Delaware River in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Wintering Bald Eagles attracted to the open water for foraging arrive in early December and leave during the last two weeks of March. (Golden Eagles are seen less frequently but are recorded nearly every winter.) Bald Eagles are seen frequently along the river during the summer months, too.
Delaware Water Gap NRA (National Park Service)
Park maps (National Park Service)
Delaware Water Gap NRA
3 Millbrook Flatbrook Road
Columbia, NJ 07832
9. Cook Inlet, Homer, AK
Cook Inlet, like the Kenai Peninsula (No. 3), is a place where you can't help but see Bald Eagles. They're everywhere -- in the Katmai and Lake Clark Wildernesses, along Kachemak Bay, and all around Homer, where until recently they were fed by Jean Keene, the town's famous "Eagle Lady."
Articles about Jean Keene by American Bald Eagle Information and by Wikipedia.
10. Prince William Sound, AK
Site of the northernmost temperate rain forest in the world and of the worst oil spill in U.S. maritime history, Prince William Sound remains a great place to see Bald Eagles. The birds nest commonly throughout the coastal areas and river systems, and from mid-summer to mid-winter, they gather in large numbers where spawning, dying, or dead salmon are found.
Read more: "Frequent Flyers" (Birding Hotspot: Alaska's Copper River Delta) by Chuck Hagner, Birder's World, December 2003, p. 46
Prince William Sound Science Center, Cordova
12. Banff NP (Lake Louise), AB
Bald Eagles are seen most often in the mountain and northern regions of Alberta. Banff, Canada's first national park and the world's third, is a great place to look for them. 2,564 square miles of valleys, mountains, glaciers, forests, meadows, and rivers.
Banff NP (Parks Canada)
Map (Parks Canada)
13. Alexander Archipelago, AK (Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan)
Thousands of Bald Eagles live in the vicinity of Juneau and south through Alaska's Inside Passage. Look for them in Admiralty Island National Monument, Starrigavan Recreation Area near Sitka, in the Stikine River Delta, and in beautiful Misty Fiords National Monument near Ketchikan.
Read more: "Great Birds Are Everywhere along the Inside Passage: Alaska's Watery Maze" by Robert H. Armstrong and Marge Hermans, Birder's World, December 2003, p. 40
Read more: Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area, Juneau, Hotspot Near You No. 41
14. Hudson River, Kingston to Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Tracts of relatively undisturbed land along the Hudson River, and especially between Kingston to Croton, are more and more attractive to wintering Bald Eagles. According to the state's Department of Environmental Conservation, it's probably because discharges from power plants keep sections of the river ice-free while the traffic on nearby railroad tracks provides an ample supply of carrion.
Popular eagle-viewing areas along the Hudson (Department of Environmental Conservation)
16. Gulf Islands between Vancouver and Victoria, BC
A wide variety of terrestrial and marine habitats means that the wildlife found in Canada's beautiful Gulf Islands National Park Reserve is diverse. Orcas, porpoises, sea lions, seals, and otters call the surrounding waters home; resident and migratory seabirds, shorebirds, and waterfowl thrive on the ocean waters; and eagles soar overhead. 15 islands, numerous islets, and reefs, and approximately 26 square kilometers of marine areas. Access by ferry or private boat.
Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada
2220 Harbour Road
17. Jasper NP, AB
The largest and most northerly Canadian Rocky Mountain national park. Protects over 10,800 square kilometers of the Rocky Mountain ecosystem, which is known to support 69 species of mammals, including elk, deer, bighorn sheep, coyote, and black bear, and 277 species of birds, including eagles.
607 Connaught Drive
Jasper, AB T0E 1E0, Canada
19. Conowingo Dam, MD
An electricity-generation plant on the Susquehanna River about eight miles above the town of Havre de Grace. One of the best places east of the Mississippi River to view Bald Eagles. Large numbers are typically present from mid-October through mid-March.
Read more: "A Site for Gulls and Bald Eagles" (Birding Hotspot: Conowingo Dam, Maryland) by Ad Crable, Birder's World, February 2000, p. 56
Conowingo Dam Site Guide by Rick Blom (Hartford Bird Club)
20. Southwestern Shore of Lake Erie, OH (Ottawa NWR)
In 1979, only four pairs of Bald Eagles nested in Ohio. By 2008, the state had more than 150 nesting pairs. The best place to look for them is in the marshes along the western shore of Lake Erie. Try the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area or Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, both along State Route 2 west of Port Clinton.
Eagle-viewing map (Ohio Department of Natural Resources)
Magee Marsh Wildlife Area
14000 W State Route 2
Oak Harbor, OH 43449-9485
22. Merritt Island NWR, FL
140,000 acres of coastal dunes, saltwater estuaries and marshes, freshwater impoundments, scrub, pine flatwoods, and hardwood hammocks four miles east of Titusville. One of the best wildlife-viewing areas in Florida, with more than 300 bird species and 15 federally listed endangered or threatened species. Nesting season for Bald Eagles begins in November.
Merritt Island NWR
Merritt Island, Titusville, FL 32782
23. Blackwater NWR, Cambridge, MD
A haven for several troubled species, including the Bald Eagle, the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel, and the migrant Peregrine Falcon. More than 25,000 acres, composed mainly of rich eagle-attracting tidal marsh characterized by fluctuating water levels and varying salinity. Part of the Chesapeake Marshlands NWR Complex.
2145 Key Wallace Drive
Cambridge, MD 21613
Friends of Blackwater
24. Glacier NP, West Glacier, MT
Located along the spine of the Rocky Mountains in the northwest corner of Montana, Glacier preserves more than a million acres of forests, alpine meadows, lakes, rugged peaks, and glacial-carved valleys. It is home to 70 species of mammals, and more than 260 species of birds, including Golden as well as Bald Eagles, occur there.
Glacier NP (National Park Service)
Birds of Glacier NP (National Park Service)