Each winter you can follow Oklahoma eagles on a path to adventure as hundreds of them make their way to the Sooner State.
Winter is the perfect time to head out in search of the approximately 800-2,000 magnificent eagles during the season’s peak. Migrating to Oklahoma from Canada and the northern states in search of warmth, these birds join nearly 80 pairs of bald eagles that are year-round residents of Oklahoma, creating a birder’s paradise filled with boundless eagle-viewing opportunities.
The bald eagle’s trek into Oklahoma begins in November and early December and peaks in January and February, when numerous bald eagle-watching events pop up around the state to take advantage of the increased numbers.
Primarily a fish-eater, the bald eagle prefers to settle near Oklahoma’s lakes and rivers for easy access to food. Groups of eagles will rest together, or “roost,” in trees along the shores, with the same roost trees being used each year. With 7-foot wingspans and bright white crowns, the grand size and distinguished appearance of the birds make them easy to spot and watch.
Here are some tips for watching the eagles:
The best time to observe eagles is around sunrise or sunset.
Wear warm, neutral-colored clothing and appropriate outerwear.
Bring binoculars, a camera (preferably with a zoom lens) and a field guide to help you identify eagles and other bird species you may find along the way.
For some eagle-viewing events, a portable camp chair or lawn chair is recommended.
Always call ahead to state parks or wildlife management areas for up-to-date eagle-viewing information before your trip.
One of the most popular locations for eagle watching is the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge near Vian.
Take your binoculars and hiking boots to the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge and venture out to spot southern bald eagles on the nest. Located along the upper half of the Robert S. Kerr Reservoir south of Vian, the refuge is known for its winter eagle sightings along numerous hiking trails and observation areas scattered throughout the park. This picturesque area of northeast Oklahoma is a haven for a variety of wintering birds and wildlife with plentiful shoreline, river bottoms and wooded swampland.
As an added bonus, visitors are invited to sign up for the annual Eagle Tour and Loon Watch events, which take place weekly from late January to early March. Start the tour by viewing the refuge’s live webcam, which documents the lives of the eagles that occupy a nearby nest. Operated by the George M. Sutton Avian Research Center, the webcam documents adult bald eagles, their eggs and eaglets. Observe the eagles on the webcam and then take off on the park’s 25-person tour bus to go search for them in the wild. Afterward, head over to neighboring Tenkiller State Park for more eagle- and loon-watching.
Find out more about eagle-watching or other fun activities at travelok.com.
Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer
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