If winter and the pandemic have you feeling cooped up, now is the time to get out and see America’s national bird in all its glory without having to travel all day.
While many bird species fly south to escape the Utah winter, the mighty bald eagle finds the state’s colder months to be quite pleasant compared with the places they come from.
February is the best time of the year to see one of America’s most iconic birds in Utah, and Northern Utah is home to some of the best places in the state to see them in their natural habitat.
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 typically in the state, and this year is no different.
In the past, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has held viewing events in February where people can see the eagles and learn more about them. However, to try to lessen the spread of COVID-19, the DWR won’t hold bald eagle viewing events this winter.
However, there are plenty of places where people can go to see eagles on their own, some of which are quite close by. And while viewing events have been canceled, the state is offering free, collectible Bald Eagle Month pins at several locations.
Following are some of the areas where locals can go to view the birds without having to drive too far, and where DWR experts say people are most likely to find what they’re looking for. Using binoculars or a spotting scope, great views of bald eagles can often be found at these locations:
• Compton’s Knoll at the Salt Creek Waterfowl Management Area west of Corinne. A viewing area on the northeast side of the WMA is open to the public, but the rest of the WMA is closed to visitors.
• Willard Bay Reservoir west of Willard. Eagles can often be seen in trees near the reservoir, and on the iced-capped reservoir itself.
• In the big cottonwood trees at Rendezvous Beach on the south end of Bear Lake.
• In trees along the Blacksmith Fork River east of Hyrum.
• In trees along the Weber River near Croydon and just below Echo Reservoir.
• Along the road leading to Lost Creek Reservoir. The reservoir is north of Croydon.
• The Eccles Wildlife Education Center at the Farmington Bay WMA west of Farmington. Eagles are often found on the portion of the WMA near the center. The center also has a display featuring both a bald eagle and a golden eagle. Two additional displays focus on wetland habitats and upland habitats, and the birds and other wildlife that use them.
Admission to the center at 1157 S. Waterfowl Way is free. It’s open Tuesdays through Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Bald Eagle Month pins, which the DWR says should be available by mid-February, will be available at the Farmington Bay center and two other Northern Utah locations: the DWR’s Ogden office at 515 E. 5300 South in South Ogden, and the Cache Valley Public Shooting Range at 2851 W. 200 North in Logan.
A word of caution: if you’re driving and looking for eagles, please do so safely. Don’t stop in the middle of the road if you see an eagle. Instead, pull completely off the road before viewing. And, don’t allow yourself to get distracted while looking for the birds. Your safety, and the safety of other motorists, comes first.