‘Bald Eagle Day’ takes flight in 5 different viewing areas

"Bald Eagle Day" will be held Feb. 11 at five viewing sites across Utah, photo location unspecified, Feb. 1, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Cathryn Smith, Utah Divison of Wildlife Resources, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Anyone who has ever seen a bald eagle in the wild knows it’s an experience that can take your breath away. And on Saturday, the Division of Wildlife Resources annual “Bald Eagle Day” will offer attendees an opportunity to not only see the majestic bird but also learn more about them.

“Bald Eagle Day” will be held Feb. 11 at five viewing sites across Utah, photo location unspecified, Jan. 1, 2000 | Photo courtesy of Scott Root, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, St. George News

Bald Eagle Day free events will take place at five locations in Utah spanning from Cedar City in the south to just outside of Corinne in the north. Viewing times vary depending on the viewing site.

Get a close look

Recreation coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, Marni Lee, said spotting scopes will be available at each viewing site so participants can get a good look at the eagles.

“Biologists and volunteers will also be on hand to help you spot the eagles and answer any questions you have,” Lee said.

Bald Eagle Day buttons will be available at the event for free, as well as handouts and other information about bald eagles, wildlife watching and birding opportunities in Utah.

The best time to attend

The best time to see eagles on Saturday depends on what’s most important to the individual attendee: staying as warm as possible or seeing more eagles.

“Bald Eagle Day” will be held Feb. 11 at five viewing sites across Utah, photo location unspecified, Feb. 1, 2014 | Photo courtesy of Cathryn Smith, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, St. George News

If staying warm is most important, attend late in the morning or early in the afternoon. The warmer temperatures during this time of the day are especially important if young children come along.

Late morning and early afternoon is also the best time to get a clear view of the eagles.

However, Lee said, the greatest number of eagles will be visible – with fairly good light conditions and reasonably warm temperatures – between 2-4 p.m.

After 4 p.m., eagles at many of the viewing locations will start flying to trees to roost for the night.

Items to bring

Participants are encouraged to dress in warm clothes and bring waterproof boots.  Also, a telephoto lens is encouraged for photo taking.

“The eagles will be a fair distance from the viewing areas,” Lee says. “You’ll need a telephoto lens to get good shots.”

Location details

Southern Utah

  • When: Saturday, Feb. 11, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Where: Rush Lake Ranch, located on the Minersville highway (state Route 130) about 12 miles north of Cedar City.
  • Cost: Free

Central Utah

  • When: Saturday, Feb. 11, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Where: Fountain Green State Fish Hatchery, located east of Nephi.
    • Take Interstate 15 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 1 mile from the hatchery where eagles often gather in a large tree.
  • Cost: Free. Free tours of the Fountain Green State Fish Hatchery will also be offered.

Northeastern Utah

  • When: Saturday, Feb. 11, 9 a.m. to noon.
  • Where: Split Mountain/Green River, located north of Jensen and below the Dinosaur Quarry in Dinosaur National Monument.
    • Drive north from U.S. Highway 40 in Jensen on the road to the Dinosaur Quarry (state Route 149). Stop at the staging area located just inside the Dinosaur National Monument 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.
    • 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.
    • Depending on when you attend, you can also see a live bird of prey close up! For part of the day, at least one hawk will be on display at the staging area. Melissa Wardel, a local falconer, usually brings her hawk to the staging area around midmorning. She and the hawk will remain at the staging area until the bird gets tired of the crowd.
    • During your trip, you may also want to stop and see the dinosaur bones and exhibits at Dinosaur National Monument. The Dinosaur Quarry and the visitor center are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The visitor center also includes a small bookstore and warm bathrooms.
  • Cost: Free. More information on the fees to visit the Dinosaur Quarry and the visitor center are available here.

Northern Utah (Salt Creek)

  • When: Saturday, Feb. 11, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Where: Salt Creek Waterfowl Management Area (Compton’s Knoll), located about 10 miles northwest of Corinne.
    • Take Interstate 15 Exit 365 and travel west on state Route 83 through Corinne.  Stay on SR-83 until you get to 6800 West (Iowa String). Travel north to 6800 N. Travel west on 6800 N. until you reach the Salt Creek WMA/Compton’s Knoll Watchable Wildlife site.
  • Cost: Free.

Northern Utah (Farmington Bay)

  • When: Saturday, Feb. 11, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Where: The west side of Farmington at 1325 W. Glovers Lane (925 South).
  • Cost: Free.

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