A blog of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

Tips for Making Your Winter Eagle Watching Trips Successful

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Oklahoma’s bald eagle numbers peak between November and February, making winter the prime season for eagle watching. Stack the odds of seeing our Nation’s symbol in your favor with these tips.

Go Where the Eagles Are

Bald eagles are primarily fish eaters and can be found around many of Oklahoma’s rivers and lakes. Popular viewing spots include Kaw Lake, the Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees and Lake Texoma but bald eagles can be spotted across the state as long as food is nearby and available.

Approximately 150 pairs of bald eagles stay here year-round, but a majority of our eagles split time between Oklahoma and more northern states. When the fishing holes freeze over in those northern states, the migratory birds return south en masse to enjoy Oklahoma’s (and other southern states) more mild winters and open waters.

Be Prepared to Bundle Up and Wait

Depending on the weather, winter eagle watching in Oklahoma could be enjoyed in a long-sleeved shirt and jeans, or may require your heaviest winter gear. Wearing layers and keeping a scarf and gloves handy can help you adjust to the varying temperature and wind conditions.

Depending on the location, eagle watching could be enjoyed from a warm car, or require a walk along the shoreline or trail. Be sure to find a safe place to pull off the road if eagle watching from a vehicle.

Depending on the birds, your eagle watching trip could be successful in a matter of minutes or hours, or may require a raincheck for another day! Time your trips for early morning or late afternoon to increase your chances of seeing these fishing raptors.

Scan the Tree Lines

Eagles spend a majority of their time perched high in a tree. When you first arrive at your eagle watching destination, scan the surrounding trees for the contrasting brown body and white head and tail of adult eagles. Eagles under the age of four years lack the characteristic white head and tail and may be more difficult to spot. Once you’ve scanned the area for adult eagles, inspect the same area for the large, dark-bodied juveniles.

Pack a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope to turn the odds of spotting an eagle in your favor.

Join an Eagle Watch

Oklahoma is considered one of the Top 10 states for winter eagle watching and several of our partners in conservation are hosting eagle watches to help you spot these beautiful raptors. Find one of the planned events in your area and check with the host to get information about meeting locations and times and any registration requirements.