|American Bald Eagle fall mating ritual - (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Here are the top ten National Wildlife Refuges for viewing:
- The Klamath Basin Refuges - Tulelake, CA, hosts the largest wintering concentration in the lower 48 states, often up to 1000 birds. Each year during the month of November, the birds begin to appear en masse on their Klamath Basin wintering grounds.
- Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge - Basom, NY, Named for the Iroquois Indians, eagle watching is among the refuge's most popular activities.
- Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge - Woodbridge, VA, On the banks of the Potomac River, lies an 8000-acre peninsula, and the home of the first refuge established specifically for the protection of bald eagles.
- Patuxent Research Refuge - Laurel, MD, is the nation's only refuge established to support wildlife research. The 12,750-acre refuge, which supports a wide diversity of wildlife, is managed to protect native and migratory bird species.
- Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge - Cambridge, MD, Eagles are here in droves from the fall through the summer, taking advantage of the mix of marsh, forested uplands and some farm fields.
- Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge - Crystal River, FL, From October through April, many bald eagles winter and nest on the banks of the Chassahowitzka River. In fact, frequently, visitors will be greeted by a pair of bald eagles in a tree at the refuge entrance.
- DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge - Missouri Valley, IA, This refuge has become an important wintering area for up to 120 bald eagles.
- Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge - Mound City, MO, Visitors can attend Bald Eagle days at the refuge this year on December 1 and 2 featuring live eagle shows and guided tours of the refuge's 2-300 bald eagles.
- Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge - Zimmerman, MN, is a particularly good spot for eagle viewing; an extensive network of shallow lakes that freeze and grow short of oxygen in the winter mean a seasonal fish kill that provides easy feeding in the spring, when groups of eagles descend to eat their fill.
- Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge - Ridgefield, WA, Ridgefield is home to four nesting pair of bald eagles, but dozens more drop by in the winter, feeding on waterfowl and fish from the nearby Columbia River.
Bald eagles are simply amazing. The phrase "eagle eye" describes their highly developed visual ability, which can spot a moving rabbit almost a mile away. An eagle, flying at 1,000 feet altitude, can spot prey across almost 3 square miles. With wingspans of six to eight feet, these raptors can fly about 65 miles per hour and soar to altitudes of 10,000 feet, staying aloft for hours using natural wind currents and thermal updrafts. I encourage you to grab your binoculars and visit one or more of these locations that may be 'in your neighborhood' so that you too can view this amazing raptor.