When winter freezes the northern lakes and rivers, bald eagles frequent eastern Kansas’ reservoirs and wide rivers. They often can be found at open-water stretches below dams and lochs in their search for fish. Some great places for eagle-watching:
- Lawrence’s riverfront area below the Bowersock Dam is often the region’s only open water in the heart of winter. It frequently attracts as many as 40 bald eagles, hungrily watching for fish passing over the dam.
- At Clinton Lake, visit the U.S. Corps of Engineers Visitors Center for the latest information on sightings.
- At Hillsdale Lake, take the 1.5-mile Hidden Spring Nature Trail. Eagles can often be seen wintering at the bridge over Little Bull Creek.
- In winter, eagles perch in the tall trees at the water’s edge at Perry State Park.
- At Cheney State Park, west of Wichita, bird watchers often are able to see wintering eagles in the double digits. On one especially busy day last winter, more than 300 were counted!
- At the Chaplin Nature Center, the Wichita Audubon Society will hold an Eagle Watch on Saturday, Jan. 30 from 10 a.m. to Noon. Includes a 15-minute indoor introduction to the history and adaptations of the bald eagle, followed by a 1.5-mile hike down to the Arkansas River to search for over-wintering eagles.
Before You Go: Eagle Etiquette
When you head out to see eagles, keep in mind that human presence can stress the birds and cause them to waste precious energy that they need to survive. To avoid being disruptive, follow these basic tips:
- Stay in or near your vehicle at roadside viewing areas.
- Move quickly and quietly to observation blinds, where you will be safely hidden from the birds’ view.
- Avoid making loud noises, such as yelling, slamming car doors and honking horns.
- Use binoculars or a spotting scope to view the birds from a comfortable distance.
- Never attempt to make an eagle fly.