You can see two adult bald eagles — and two eaglets that recently hatched — during free field trips in June.
The Division of Wildlife Resources will host the field trips on Thursday, June 13 and Saturday, June 15. The trips will leave from the Department of Natural Resources building in Salt Lake City each evening at 6 p.m. The DNR building is at 1594 W. North Temple.
The field trips are free, but reservations are required. To reserve a spot, call Bob Walters, Watchable Wildlife coordinator for the DWR, at 801-209-5326.
After meeting at the DNR building, participants will follow Walters in their vehicles 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, please bring them. “It’ll probably be warm,” Walters says, “so dress for warm weather. And make sure to bring some water, mosquito spray and sunscreen with you.”
You can leave the viewing site any time during the evening.
Eaglets starting to hop, flutter and dance
If you participate in one of the field trips, there’s a good chance you’ll watch the eaglets as they prepare to make 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 their nest for the first time,” he says.
The eaglets should be nine to 10 weeks old when the field trips are held.
Because bald eagles often nest at the same site every year, the adult eagles you see on June 13 or June 15 could be the same pair that started nesting at the site in 1996. However, because the eagle pair didn’t produce any young in 2009 or 2010, Walters believes one of the adult eagles might be a new bird.
Nesting bald eagles in Utah
In addition to the site where the June field trips will occur, DWR biologists know of at least 10 other active bald eagle nest sites in Utah. “And there could be more nest sites we haven’t found yet,” Walters says.
Bald eagles first nested at this northern Utah site in 1996. Since 1996, a total of 38 eaglets have been raised at the nest site. “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 habitat in this area near Great Salt Lake. “Habitat within the greater Great Salt Lake area is important to these eagles and many other species of wildlife,” he says.
Image courtesy Utah Division of Wildlife Resources