Wildlife News

Bald Eagle Day, Feb. 8

See bald eagles at two different locations in northern Utah

Since it began in 1990, Bald Eagle Day has become one of Utah's most popular wildlife viewing events.

Carp will not be used to attract eagles at two Bald Eagle Day viewing sites in northern Utah. Bald Eagle Day will be held Feb. 8 at five viewing sites across the state.

Carp will not be used to attract eagles at two Bald Eagle Day viewing sites in northern Utah. Bald Eagle Day will be held Feb. 8 at five viewing sites across the state.

Photo by Lynn Chamberlain

This year's event happens Feb. 8. With one exception, this event should be no different from past events — plenty of eagles should be available to see at most of the state's Bald Eagle Day viewing sites.

Two viewing sites in northern Utah are the possible exception.

To draw plenty of eagles for people to view, Division of Wildlife Resources biologists usually bring dead carp from Utah Lake and deposit the fish at the Farmington Bay and Salt Creek waterfowl management areas.

Dead carp are a favorite food of bald eagles. Providing plenty of food draws additional eagles to these areas — just in time for Bald Eagle Day.

However, after several eagles within the greater Great Salt Lake area died after contracting West Nile virus earlier this winter, biologists don't want to encourage the birds to congregate. Bob Walters, Watchable Wildlife coordinator for the DWR, says congregating eagles in one spot could lead to a bird that has West Nile virus passing the disease to other eagles through its saliva or feces.

"For that reason," he says, "carp will not be deposited at the two WMAs this year. Not having carp for the birds to eat will likely reduce the number of eagles people see."

Even though the number of eagles at Farmington Bay and Salt Creek might not be as high as normal, eagles should still be available to watch.

"Seeing even just a few of these birds can take your breath away," Walters says.

Free event

Bald Eagle Day will be held on Feb. 8. The event is free.

You can see eagles at five locations across Utah. Viewing times vary depending on the viewing site you visit:

Northern Utah

Salt Creek Waterfowl Management Area (Compton's Knoll), located about 10 miles northwest of Corinne

Viewing at Salt Creek will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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 at Farmington Bay will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In addition to seeing eagles at the WMA, you might want to drop by the Robert N. Hasenyager Great Salt Lake Nature Center. The center is at the north end of the WMA. Hands-on activities for children will begin at 9 a.m. and will continue through most of the day. Live birds of prey will also be available to view. Members of HawkWatch International will show the raptors from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

To reach the nature center and the WMA, follow these directions:

If you're traveling from Salt Lake City and other areas south of Farmington:

Travel north on I-15 to Exit 322. (The exit is just after you pass under the Glovers Lane overpass.) Where the ramp forks, stay right. Just off the exit ramp, turn right onto the frontage road, and continue south to the stop sign. Turn right onto Glovers Lane, and follow it west.

To reach the Farmington Bay WMA, travel to 1325 W. Glovers Lane, and turn left.

To reach the Great Salt Lake Nature Center, continue west on Glovers Lane to 1700 W. Glovers Lane. You will go past a "Dead End" sign. The paved road to the nature center will be on your left.

If you're traveling from Ogden and other areas north of Farmington:

Travel south on I-15 to Farmington. Take Exit 325 (the Lagoon/Park Lane exit). The exit will deliver you to Park Lane. Turn right (west) on Park Lane. Park Lane will bear south and run into Clark Lane. Turn right (west) onto Clark Lane and continue to the first four-way stop, which is 1525 W. Turn left (south) onto 1525 W., and continue for about one mile until the street ends at Glovers Lane.

To reach the Farmington Bay WMA, turn left (east) onto Glovers Lane. Travel to 1325 W. Glovers Lane, and then turn right (south).

To reach the Great Salt Lake Nature Center, turn right (west) onto Glovers Lane. Continue west on Glovers Lane to 1700 W. Glovers Lane. You will go past a "Dead End" sign. The paved road to the nature center will be on your left.

Central Utah

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.

Northeastern Utah

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 3 p.m.

To reach the site, drive north from U.S. Highway 40 in Jensen on the road to the Dinosaur Quarry (state Route 149).

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. Biologists will also be available to answer your questions.

You may 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 mid-morning. She and the hawk will remain at the staging area until the bird gets tired of the crowd. This year, Wardel is also putting a one-hour slide show together about birds of prey. The slide show will begin at noon in the new visitor center.

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 want to stop and see the dinosaur bones and exhibits at Dinosaur National Monument. The Dinosaur Quarry and DNM's visitor center are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The visitor center also includes a small bookstore and warm bathrooms.

Southern Utah

Rush Lake Ranch, located on the Minersville highway (SR-130) about 12 miles north of Cedar City.

Viewing will take place from 9 a.m.–2 p.m.

Get a close look

Walters says spotting scopes will be available 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 a Bald Eagle Day button. Handouts and information about bald eagles, wildlife watching and birding opportunities in Utah will also be available.

The button and information are free.

The best time to attend

The best time to see eagles on Feb. 8 depends on what's most important to you: staying as warm as possible or seeing more eagles!

  • If staying warm is most important, attend late in the morning or early in the afternoon. Walters says the warmer temperatures during this time of the day are especially important if you bring young children with you.

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

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

    "If you want to see the greatest number of eagles," Walters says, "mid to late afternoon, before the eagles fly to their roost sites, 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 take photos of the eagles, bring a telephoto lens.

"The eagles will be a fair distance from the viewing areas," Walters says.

Utah's most popular viewing event

Walters started Bald Eagle Day 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," he 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 purpose," he says.

For more information about Bald Eagle Day, call Walters at 801-209- 5326, or Division of Wildlife Resources offices in Ogden, Springville, Vernal or Cedar City.

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