Friday, 01 June 2012 13:40
Family includes two young eaglets
Salt Lake City — You can see two adult bald eagles and two eaglets that recently hatched during free field trips in June.
Seeing bald eaglets is the focus of the free field trips.
Photo by Phil Douglass
The Division of Wildlife Resources will host the field trips on Thursday, June 14 and Saturday, June 16 as part of its year-round Watchable Wildlife program.
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.
If you participate, you'll follow Walters in your vehicle, traveling on mostly paved roads 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 binoculars or spotting scopes, please bring them. "Also, dress for warm weather," Walters says. "And bring some water, mosquito spray and sunscreen."
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 10 to 11 weeks old when the field trips are held. Walters says the eaglets and their parents will probably stay at the nest site until the end of July. Then they'll leave the site to fly to other areas where the eaglets will continue to grow.
Walters says bald eagles often nest at the same site every year.
The adult eagles you see on June 14 or June 16 could be the same pair that has nested at the site since 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
Before this pair of eagles, 1928 was the last time biologists documented nesting bald eagles in the northern part of the state.
Bald eagles first nested at this northern Utah site in 1996. Two or three eaglets have been raised each year during 14 of the past 16 years. Since 1996, a total of 36 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 streamside and lakeside 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.
In addition to the northern Utah site, 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.
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