Warmer weather this winter means fewer bald eagle sightings

SOUTHBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — You may not think of birdwatching as a winter activity, but bird enthusiasts say it is typically a great time of year to see a bald eagle. People gathered near the Shepaug Hydroelectric Station in Southbury on Saturday hoping to see the birds. The rainy weather in the morning didn’t stop the bald eagles from coming to fish by the dam. It didn’t dampen birdwatchers’ enthusiasm either. By 11 o’clock that morning they had already spotted three bald eagles.

“I’ve been here since 2001 and I never get tired of seeing a family come here for the very first time, seeing a bald eagle,” said Wildlife Guide Lucy Walker. “It’s wonderful.”

People are seeing fewer of the birds this winter, however. In general, the colder the winter the more birds go to the area by the dam to feed. In chillier years people have seen up to 20 per day; this year they’ve seen no more than 6 in one day. Still, every eagle sighting brings excitement.

“We just had a little boy in here who looked and looked and looked, and all of a sudden he saw the eagle in the scope and his face just lit up,” said Bob Giddings, a birdwatcher. “I live for that.”

Because of the dam some of the water doesn’t freeze. That makes it a great spot to look for eagles, especially when it’s very cold and most of the other bodies of water nearby have frozen over.

Even though it was a mild day for January there were eagles out looking for food, as well as people looking for a chance to see them. Like the bald eagles, many come back every winter.

“It’s just something I love doing,” said Giddings. “They’re a very special bird and this is a good place to see them. So it’s kept me coming back all this time.”

You can stop by on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays through mid-March from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Register here: http://www.gdfsuezna.com/shepaug/

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