Photo by Ron Stewart, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
If you’ve ever seen a bald eagle in the wild, you know it’s an experience that can take your breath away.
On Feb. 12, you’ll have a chance not only to see bald eagles, but to learn more about them. The Division of Wildlife Resources will hold its annual Utah Bald Eagle Day that day.
Bald Eagle Day is free. You can see eagles at five locations across the state. Viewing times vary depending on the viewing site you visit:
Salt Creek Waterfowl Management Area (Compton’s Knoll), located about 10 miles northwest of Corinne Viewing will take place at Salt Creek 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 10 to 11:30 a.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!
To reach the WMA, take Exit 365 off of Interstate 15 and travel west on state Route 83 through Corinne. Stay on Route 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.
Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, located on the west side of Farmington at 1325 W. Glover Lane (925 South) Viewing will take place at Farmington Bay from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If you’re traveling north on Interstate 15, coming from Salt Lake City and other areas south of Farmington:
To reach the WMA, travel north on I-15, and exit the freeway at Exit 325. Turn left on Park Lane and travel west. The road will angle to the south, and you’ll come to Clark Lane at the first traffic light. Turn right. Travel west to the first stop sign, which is at 1525 West, and turn left. Travel south to Glover Lane, and turn right. Travel west on Glover Lane for about one block until you come to 1325 W. Turn left on 1325 W. and travel south into the WMA.
If you’re traveling south on Interstate 15, coming from Ogden and other areas north of Farmington:
To reach the WMA, travel south on I-15 and exit the freeway at Exit 325. Go to the stoplight and turn right on Park Lane. Travel south to the next light, which is at Clark Lane, and turn right. Travel west to the first stop sign, which is at 1525 West, and turn left. Travel south to Glover Lane, and turn right. Travel west on Glover Lane for about one block until you come to 1325 W. Turn left on 1325 W. and travel south into the WMA.
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 4 p.m.
To reach the site, drive north from U.S. Highway 40 in Jensen on the road (state Route 149) to the Dinosaur Quarry.
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.
You can also see live birds close up! At least two live birds of prey—and maybe as many as four—will be on display at the staging area.
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 also want to stop and visit the Dinosaur National Monument. The monument’s dinosaur quarry is closed, but you can see a few dinosaur bones at a temporary visitor center near the quarry. The visitor center also includes a small bookstore.
Cedar Valley, about four miles northwest of Cedar City Viewing will take place in Cedar Valley from 3 p.m. until dusk.
To reach the site, exit Interstate 15 at Exit 59, and travel west on state Route 56 to 3900 W. Turn right on 3900 W., and travel north to 2800 N. The viewing site is at 3900 W. and 2800 N.
Get a close look
Bob Walters, Watchable Wildlife coordinator for the DWR, says spotting scopes will be set up at each viewing site so you can get a good look at the eagles. “Biologists and volunteers will also be on hand to help you spot the eagles and to answer your questions,” he says.
You can also pick up information about bald eagles, and wildlife watching and birding opportunities in Utah, at each location. The materials will be available for free, or for a small cost.
The best time to attend
The best time to see eagles on Feb. 12 depends on whether you want to sacrifice staying a little warmer for a chance to see more eagles!
If you want to attend during the warmest time of the day, attend late in the morning or early in the afternoon. Walters says the warmer temperatures are especially important if you bring young children with you.
Late morning and early afternoon are also usually the clearest times of the day to see eagles. If you want to see the greatest number of eagles with fairly good light conditions and reasonably warm temperatures, attend between 2 and 4 p.m. Walters says in late afternoon, eagles at most of the locations start flying to trees to roost for the night.
“If you want to see the greatest number of eagles,” he says, “mid to late afternoon is usually the best time to attend.”
Items to bring
If you attend Bald Eagle Day, dress in warm clothes and bring waterproof boots. Also, if you want to get pictures of the eagles, bring a telephoto lens.
“The eagles will be some distance from the viewing areas,” Walters says. “In the past, we’ve had photographers try to get close to the eagles. They ended up scaring the eagles away.”
Utah’s most popular viewing event
Walters started Bald Eagle Day in 1990 as a way to introduce people to Utah’s wildlife.
“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.” Since it began, 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 intended purpose,” he says.
For more information about Bald Eagle Day, call Walters at (801) 538- 4771, or Division of Wildlife Resources offices in Ogden, Springville, Vernal or Cedar City.