Conserving the Nature of America
Bald is Beautiful
Where and When to See Eagles This Winter on National Wildlife Refuges

December 20, 2013


Division of Public Affairs
External Affairs
Telephone: 703-358-2220

America’s majestic bald eagle is a wildlife conservation success story – and a thrill to see. The species almost succumbed to habitat loss and DDT contamination before earning federal protection in 1967. After 40 years of recovery efforts and the banning of DDT, eagles have rebounded and the bird has been removed from the federal endangered species list.
Winter is a great time to see eagles in much of the country. Here are some refuge hot spots for winter eagle viewing and events that give you a front-row seat.
Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge
Eagle Watch
January 18 and 19, 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
January 25 and 26, 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Take a guided van tour to see an active bald eagle nest and other eagle hangouts. Reservations are required: 618-998-5933 or 618-997-3344 ext. 1.
Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge
In winter, more than 1,000 bald eagles hunt the open water below the river's locks and dams, swooping down to catch fish. On one recent mid-December day, more than 850 eagles were seen from Lock and Dam 13 at Fulton, IL. Aerial displays and pair bonding are best viewed January through March 
Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge
Eagle Festival
March 15, 2014; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The festival includes several free “eagle prowls” – short bus tours to see active eagle nests on the refuge. No pre-registration. Information: 410-228-2677. More than 200 bald eagles winter on the refuge, which supports the largest Atlantic Coast nesting population of bald eagles north of Florida.
Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge
Bald Eagle Days
December 7-8
Just because the refuge’s signature eagle event is past doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. Hundreds of bald eagles hang out here all winter long. A one-and-one-half-mile hiking trail called Eagle Overlook offers eagle viewing from the wetlands.
Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge
Eagle Tours
January 18-19, 25-26, 9 a.m. to noon
February 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 9 a.m. to noon
March 1-2, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Take a guided bus tour to see nesting bald eagles through scopes.
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge  
Eagle Watch   
January 4, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26, 1:30 to 4 p.m.
February 1, 2, 8, 9, 1:30 to 4 p.m. 
Take a bus tour to search for bald and golden eagles. Reserve after December 31: 580-429-2151. Children must be 8 or older. $5 per person.
Klamath Basin Refuges
Winter Wings Festival
February 13-16
The six wildlife refuges of the Klamath Basin make great places to see eagles even if you miss the Bald Eagle Conference hosted by the refuges in February in Klamath Falls. At Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, the winter eagle population can reach 500. The Klamath Basin Birding Trail shows mapped viewing routes. Or see dozens of eagles along auto tours at Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge in California. You can sometimes see more than 50 eagles from one spot.
Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge
Free Eagle Tours
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, December 19 to February 28, 8 a.m. and noon
Reserve ahead: 731-538-2481
Take a six-person tour through Grassy Island wildlife drive to the viewing tower over scenic Reelfoot Lake, where eagles congregate because of the abundant ducks and geese. Get a close-up look at two active bald eagle nesting sites where you can often see eagles tending their nests, and later, incubating their eggs. Bald eagle numbers peak in February, with more than 200 wintering eagles around Reelfoot Lake. Resident eagles account for 32 nests. Some parts of the refuge close in the winter to give waterfowl a chance to rest, but two refuge observation decks remain open year-round to accommodate visitors.
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
Bald Eagle Day
February 8, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. —
Take a tour to view eagles resting or feeding. The refuge will also provide maps to other eagle-viewing locations around the state.
Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge  
The first refuge established for the protection of bald eagles, Mason Neck Refuge, has been listed as one of the top ten spots in the country to see them. The Great Marsh Trail provides a good overlook from November through March, when eagles are building nests and laying eggs.
Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge  
Dozens of bald eagles drop by to feed on waterfowl and fish in the winter Along the Columbia River. Washington is one of the largest eagle nesting sites in the country. The big birds are usually easily visible from December through March and sometimes beyond, depending on the Columbia salmon runs.
See also:
Map of refuges with bald eagles or created to protect bald eagles:
Bald eagle fact sheet:
The National Wildlife Refuge System protects wildlife and wildlife habitat on more than 150 million acres of land and water from the Caribbean to the Pacific, Maine to Alaska. Refuges also improve human health, provide outdoor recreation and support local economies. Visit our home page at Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Information contained in older news items may be outdated. These materials are made available as historical archival information only. Individual contacts have been replaced with general External Affairs office information. No other updates have been made to the information and we do not guarantee current accuracy or completeness.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.