5 places to see the national bird during Utah's Bald Eagle Month

Salt Lake City — February is the best time of the year to see one of America's most iconic birds. 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 in the state.

A bald eagle in flight with wings spread
A bald eagle in flight with wings spread

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is hosting several events where you can see the eagles and learn more about them during Bald Eagle Month. Each viewing event will be free, and spotting scopes will be available at each location. However, if you own your own scope or a pair of binoculars, you should bring them. It's also recommended to bring a camera and a telephoto lens, if you have one. Participants can also get a free, collectible Bald Eagle Month pin at the events.

You can see bald eagles during the following events:

Southern Utah

This viewing event will take place on Saturday, Feb. 1 from 8 a.m. to noon at Rush Lake Ranch, located at 9600 N. Minersville Highway (State Route 130). The ranch is located about 12 miles north of Cedar City.

While the event is free, participants are encouraged to register in advance on Eventbrite. These events could be canceled if the weather creates hazardous driving conditions, and registered participants will be notified via Eventbrite email.

Central Utah

This event will be held Saturday, Feb. 8 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Fountain Green State Fish Hatchery at 700 N. Big Springs Road in Fountain Green. If you're coming from the north, you can reach the hatchery by taking I-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 receive 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 nearby location where eagles often gather in a large tree. The viewing site is about 1 mile from the hatchery.

While the event is free, participants are encouraged to register in advance on Eventbrite.

Northern Utah

Two chances to see bald eagles in northern Utah will be available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 8. Spotting scopes will be in place at the Salt Creek Waterfowl Management Area and the Farmington Bay WMA.

The Salt Creek WMA is about 10 miles northwest of Corinne. Directions to the WMA — and more information about the event — is available on the event page. While the event is free, participants are encouraged to register in advance on Eventbrite.

The Farmington Bay WMA is located on the west side of Farmington. The WMA includes the Eccles Wildlife Education Center located at 1157 S. Waterfowl Way. Participants can learn more about bald eagles, get close to live raptors brought to the event by members of the Utah Falconers Association, and do an eagle-themed art activity with your kids.

"We'll also direct you to an area on the WMA where you can see bald eagles," Nicaela Haig, director of education at the center, said. "Spotting scopes will be in place, and biologists will be available to help you spot the birds and answer your questions."

While the event is free, participants are encouraged to register in advance on Eventbrite.

A possible lack of ice on Feb. 8 could reduce the number of eagles at the two sites this year. Also, to help vegetation in the ponds at the wetlands, each winter, WMA managers kill invasive carp. This winter, the managers are trying something new: instead of doing small treatments at all of the WMAs, they'll do a large removal at one WMA.

Neither Farmington Bay nor Salt Creek will be treated this winter, so there might be fewer dead carp for the eagles to eat. Those factors — a possible lack of ice and fewer dead carp — could reduce the number of eagles you see.

Even if eagle numbers are a little lower, the event is still worth attending.

"You should still see eagles and enjoy lots of fun activities at the education center," Rachael Tuckett, DWR regional wildlife recreation coordinator, said. "We hope you'll join us at Salt Creek or Farmington Bay that day."

Northeastern Utah

This event will be held on Feb. 8 from 8 a.m. to noon at the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge headquarters at 19001 E. Wildlife Refuge Road in Randlett, Uintah County. As with the other events, DWR biologists will be available to answer questions and to help participants spot golden and bald eagles on the refuge. There will be live raptors at the event, courtesy of some local falconers. Spotting scopes and binoculars will be available for use, but you should bring your own to practice with, if possible. Bathroom facilities will be open at the refuge.

To reach the site, travel on U.S. 40 about 14 miles west of Vernal or about 13 miles east of Roosevelt, and turn south on State Route 88. Travel south on SR-88 for 14 miles, and then turn left into the refuge entrance. The refuge headquarters is 1 mile down the entrance road.

While the event is free, participants are encouraged to register in advance on Eventbrite.

If you attend any of the events, dress in warm clothes and wear waterproof boots.

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