Seeing a bald eagle in the wild is an incredible experience. Last year, about this time, my husband said he had never seen an eagle before. So, we piled into the family truckster, drove up to Saylorville Lake and were lucky to see an eagle in a tree off in the distance. On his quest to see another eagle, he and my daughter then trekked off to Gray’s Lake and spotted one in a tree directly in front of them. And, then we just started seeing them all over the place: in a median outside of Bondurant, flying over us on 100th street in Urbandale, flying over the neighbor’s house. We couldn’t get away from them!
If you have not seen a bald eagle soaring in the sky before, you don’t know what you’re missing. Now is a great time to gather the family and go looking, before they make their way north. Eagles can be seen here in Central Iowa from October to March and there are several roosting grounds in the area. You can head out on your own or you can check out one of these local events:
Des Moines Parks & Recreation Bald Eagle Watch, Feb. 14, 10:00 a.m.
Des Moines Parks and Recreation is teaming up with the Iowa Department of Natural Resource and Fellowship Baptist Church to host Bald Eagle Day.
- Outdoor viewing on the SE 6th Street Bridge
- Indoor activities, replica nest, presentations by local experts at Fellowship Baptist Church
- For more information call 515-283-4294
Saylorville Bald Eagle Watch, Feb. 22, 12:00 p.m.
- Outdoor viewing at selected sites around reservoir, start at Visitor’s Center
- Jester Park Lodge will be hosting a live eagle viewing starting at 1:00 p.m.
- For more information call 515-276-4656
If you decide to create your own family outing, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Visit a local designated bald eagle viewing site.
- In addition to looking overhead for flying eagles, scan the trees for eagles that are perched in the tree tops.
- Check ice floes or islands for eagles eating or sunning themselves.
- Go early in the day (7:00 -9:00 am) or late afternoon (4:00 -5:00 pm), when eagles tend to be most active.
- Be patient: The key to successful viewing is patience.
- Look up bald eagle facts to share with the kids, before you head out.
- Take along activities for the kids to do in the car.
- Dress warmly and in layers, and pack hot beverages.
- Scout for places to take potty breaks, before you go.
- If you drive, pull your vehicle completely off the road and park only in designated areas.
- Use binoculars.
- Avoid loud noises such as honking horns, slamming doors, yelling and radio playing.
What are your suggestions for eagle watching with kids in Central Iowa?