Nature Notes: Eagle Watching
Wintertime in the Gorge usually means the migration of skiers and snowboarders to the mountain for fresh snow. But another migration is also taking place, the migration of Bald Eagles to the area. While not all eagles migrate, Bald Eagles from the North head towards The Gorge in the winter or areas with open water and lots of prey is available.
It isn’t the cold that forces eagles South, these big raptors have some heavy duty down keeping them toasty. It is the depletion of food due to the smaller bodies of water, where they usually nest, freezing over that sends them towards the Gorge. The eagles follow runs of hatchery chinook, fall coho, and steelhead salmon up the Columbia. With their distinctive white head and tail it is easy to spot adult Bald Eagles, but juveniles who haven’t developed this coloring yet are a bit trickier to identify. Look for a bird that is similar in size but entirely dark in color.
While it is possible to view Bald Eagles throughout the Gorge in the Winter, Park rangers recommend the Robins Island and North Shore recreation areas at Bonneville Dam and Seufert Park at The Dalles Dam as the best places for eagle watching during the colder winter months.
Tons of Eagle events are happening around the Gorge now find one near you!
- The Dalles Dam Bald Eagle Watch, Saturday, Feb. 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Dalles Dam Visitor Center in The Dalles, Ore. Area residents and visitors can catch a glimpse of our national symbol, the American bald eagle, and other raptors during the event.
- Hood River Hobbies is leading a field trip on Sunday, Feb. 5, leaving from the Hobby shop at 8am. RSVP with your name, email address and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot.
- Portland Audubon is hosting a Raptor Road Trip at Sauvie Island, Saturday, Feb. 6, from 9am to 2pm,. Come see hawks, bald eagles and falcons who spend the winter there.