Salt Lake City — You can see two adult bald eagles — and their two baby eaglets — during free field trips in June.
The Division of Wildlife Resources will host the field trips on Thursday, June 23 and Saturday, June 25. The trips will leave at 6 p.m. each evening from the Department of Natural Resources, 1594 W. North Temple in Salt Lake City. There’s no cost to attend the field trips, but reservations are required. To reserve a spot call Bob Walters, Watchable Wildlife coordinator for the DWR, at (801) 209-5326. Participants will follow Walters in their vehicles, traveling on mostly paved roads to the viewing site near the southeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake. Walters will have some spotting scopes and binoculars, but if you have your own binoculars or a spotting scope, please bring it. “Also, dress for warm weather,” Walters says. “And bring some mosquito spray and sunscreen.” You can leave the viewing site any time during the evening.
Eaglets starting to hop, flutter and dance
If you attend one of the field trips, there’s a good chance you’ll watch as the eaglets prepare for their first flights. Walters says the eaglets should be dancing on the nest, beating their wings and making short “touch and go” flights between their nest and branches on their manmade nest structure. “All of these antics are part of the build up to that magic moment when the eaglets leave home for the first time,” he says. By the end of June, the eaglets should be about 11 weeks old. Walters says the eaglets and their parents will probably remain at the nest site until the end of July. Then they’ll leave the nest site to fly to other areas, probably outside the state. Walters says bald eagles often nest at the same site every year. The adult eagles you see on June 23 or June 25 could be the same pair that has nested at the site since 1996. But the eagle pair didn’t produce any young in 2009 or 2010, so Walters says there’s a chance that one of the adult eagles might be a new bird.
Nesting bald eagles in Utah
Before this pair of eagles, 1928 was the last time biologists documented bald eagles nesting in the northern part of the state. Bald eagles first nested at this northern Utah site in 1996. Two or three eaglets have been raised during 14 of the past 16 years. A total of 34 eaglets have been raised at the nest location since 1996. “To say the least,” Walters says, “this Great Salt Lake eagle pair is really productive.” Walters says the nesting success the eagles have found illustrates the quality and the importance of the streamside and lake habitat in the greater Great Salt Lake area. “Habitat within the greater Great Salt Lake area is important to these eagles and many other species of wildlife,” he says. “Everything possible should be done to protect and preserve it.” In addition to the northern Utah site, biologists know of 10 other active bald eagle nest sites in Utah. “And there could easily be more nest sites we haven’t found yet,” Walters says.
Mark Hadley, DWR Relations with the Public Specialist (801) 538-4737