The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Max Erikson
Reporter 

Bald Eagles mass down at the dam

 

January 31, 2018

Contributed: Rhonda McReynolds

EAGLE SCOUT: A solitary Bald Eagle takes to the air near The Dalles Dam. By some counts, there are up to 60 of the majestic birds abiding in the trees (inset below) there. The best place to see them is at Seusert Park near the dam's visitors' center.

There is quite a sight to see at The Dalles Dam this time of year as hungry eagles from around the northern parts of the Americas have taken up residence at the dam to fish for food during the frozen winter months.

Amber Tilton, a Park Ranger for The Dalles Lock and Dam, says that her team has spotted a continuous count of 50 to 60 Bald Eagles who have migrated to the Columbia River from Canada and as far as Alaska.

"Eagles' main source of food is fish," Tilton says. "And when the water freezes over in the northern regions, eagles migrate south to warmer areas to find food."

Sue Van Leuven of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) says that it is very common this time of year to spot large groups of eagles migrating to find food when their normal habitats are less abundant during the winter.

Van Lueven says that the mouth of the Klickitat River also is a great place to spot eagles, and it is not uncommon to see many other different birds including pelicans.

December to February is the best time to bird watch for eagles in our area, and Tilton says that eagles will start to gradually disappear by the end of February as warmer weather returns; most of them will migrate back to their normal habitats by the end of March.

The best place to see the eagles is at Seusert Park, which is adjacent to The Dalles Dam visitor center. The visitor center is located at 3545 Bretclodfelter Way in The Dalles. Tilton says that it is a perfect location for the eagles because it is quiet, and there is not a lot of human activity to scare them away.

"We invite people to come down to the park, walk the trails, and take a look," Tilton says. "The visitor center is closed till May, but parking is available and is open to the public."

The American Bald Eagle was adopted as our national symbol in 1782. In the 1960s, it was once on the verge of extinction-then numbering only in the thousands-and was placed on the endangered species list in 1966.

Through preservation of habitats and the banning of DDT in 1972-DDT use was linked to a high number of deaths to bald eagles-the birds made a remarkable recovery and in 2007 were removed from the endangered species list. There are a total of about 70,000 bald eagles in the whole of North America.

 

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