We were mulling over what activities we can do in the Pacific Northwest Washington area, other than snow-related, when we came across this Eagle spotting article in the Seattle Times. We had never seen bald eagles ever and so we decided to take the wonderful trip from Seattle to the Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center, ~3 hour drive.
The drive itself was amazing, taking us through different terrains. It was wonderful to see how we did not change much altitude on the way and yet we saw towns covered in snow, followed closely with towns that did not have any snow at all!
We ended up spotting 8 adult eagles and couple of juveniles, all engaged in eating a dead cow carcass. Well thankfully we did not catch a look of the carcass, but managed to clearly see the birds flying across from one tree to another, or perched on top of trees. Sadly, we could not get good pictures as we did not have the appropriate camera lens to capture the birds. The images here have been generously shared by Frank Cone.
The bald eagle is the national bird of the USA since 1782. And should I say, it so deserves to be! The very first time we laid eyes on the grand bird, we could see how royal it looked. It kind of had an aura about it! Its wingspan itself can stretch up to 8 feet! The eagles reside in Alaska and Canada, but migrate south during winters following the chum salmon in the streams of Washington.
“Bald” eagles are not actually bald or hairless. “Balde” means “white” in old English. The Bald Eagles are called so because of the white colored heads of the adult eagles. Until they are juvenile or young, the eagles in fact have brown colored feathers on their head. As they start to grow up, the feathers start to change color and change to white.
Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center
Washington state offers great places to view Bald Eagles. One of the most popular destinations is near the Skagit River. The Skagit River Interpretive Center is a non-profit organization that is run with the help of volunteers in the area. Their aim is to raise awareness about the unique species by encouraging ecotourism.
They help visitors with spotting eagles from certain viewing points. There are volunteers posted in these following locations with binoculars to help spot eagles in the nearby trees.
- Skagit River Interpretive Center
- Mile Post 100 Rest Area on Highway 20
- Howard Miller Steelhead County Park
- Marblemount Fish Hatchery
- Skagit Eagle Festival : Activities happening the first four weekends (Saturday & Sunday) of January 2015 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Arlington – Stillaguamish Eagle Festival : There is an eagle festival on Feb 5 and 6, 2016
Other Places for Eagle spotting
The National Wildlife Federation lists some other places as well to spot bald eagles here.