WARREN, Pa. - For nature lovers interested in seeing American bald eagles in the wild, there is a great opportunity to do so on Eagle Watch Day held annually at the renowned Kinzua Dam in Warren County, Pa.
When the cold expanse of the Allegheny Reservoir behind the dam freezes over and ice forms downstream in the Allegheny River, the open tailwaters of the river below the dam become prime fishing waters for eagles.
On an Arctic-like day in January 2010, 350 visitors to the Big Bend Recreation Area saw approximately 15 eagles, mature and immature, just downstream from the dam.
Other wintering birds and cold-water creatures were observed as well.
In 2011 the event will be held on Feb. 5 from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Sponsors include the U.S. Corps of Engineers, Pennsylvania Game Commission, Penn Soil Resource Conservation and Development Council, Kinzua Cachers and the Allegheny Outdoor Club.
In addition to wildlife observation, activities include an eagle restoration in Pennsylvania program by David Donachy, a wildlife officer of the PGC; and a geomeet - "Caching with Eagles" - organized by the Kinzua Cachers.
Several temporary geocaches will be established around the recreation area.
"It was a very nice event," Kinzua Cacher leader Liz Dropp said of last year's watch. The cachers were thrilled to see eagles and walk on the dam. They loved the eagle talk [by Officer Donachy] too.
"We had 52 people sign the cache log. The farthest places they came from were Ontario, Canada; Erie, Harborcreek, and nearby Northwestern Pennsylvania towns; Machias, Mayville and South Dayton. All-in-all a very nice event."
Three public areas of interest will be open for public viewing and learning about America's national bird: the Big Bend Visitor Center, a wildlife-viewing platform on a high bank overlooking the tailwaters and the top of the Kinzua Dam.
Observation stations will be manned and spotting scopes will be available to better observe the eagles.
Persons 18 years of age and older will be required to show identification to gain access to the top of the dam.
This program is recreational and observational, as well as educational. It is free to the public.
For visitors, Warren's Holiday Inn and Hampton Inn have offered special rates for the weekend.
Interested persons should mention the event went inquiring about rates and availability of rooms.
For additional information contact Bill Massa of the Allegheny Outdoor Club at 814-723-2568.