Bounding from atop a pine, she glided across the bay. With a couple flaps of her enormous wings, the majestic bird slowed and came to rest on a tall, dead snag protruding above the water’s surface. A cadence of shrill whistles cut through the fogladen air, as she re-situated her footing. Digging her razor-sharp talons into the dead snag, the beautiful specimen gazed into the distance, scanning the surroundings for her next potential meal. The dull brown plumage covering her bulky body and massive wings contrasted with head and tail feathers that were as white as a freshly fallen snow. As the morning sun finally managed to cut through the thick, moist air, her mighty beak and powerful feet illuminated with a vibrant yellow. They were obviously powerful and well-tuned tools capable of capturing and dismantling their prey. She epitomized strength and integrity; a true sight to behold. For no known reason, the adult bald eagle suddenly took flight and disappeared into the horizon. I might never see her again, but watching this pristine specimen from a close distance would forever be etched in my mind. With the winter months, one’s odds of seeing a bald eagle will increase drastically, as an influx of our national symbols will be navigating Arkansas’
skies. Bald eagles will venture upon a lengthy journey from the most northern reaches of this country during their annual migration, many of them opting to winter on our waterways. That in mind, our local state parks are already gearing up for their annual “Eagle Watch” tours.
“Eagle Watch” tours will begin in November at Lake Ouachita State Park and will continue through February. Participants will load up on a barge at the marina, and embark upon a pleasant boat ride lasting anywhere from 1 to 1⁄2 hours after departure.
Cost for the tour is $9 per adult, $5 for youngsters ages 8 to 12, and children under 6 years of age are free. The state park will offer blankets on cold days and have a limited number of binoculars they can loan out during the tours. Lake Catherine State Park will be hosting “Eagle Watch” tours Jan. 17-19. Ten to 12 participants will be allowed on each excursion, which will cover in the neighborhood of 5-7 miles, taking approximately one hour to complete. Three tours per-day are scheduled and the cost is free.
Degray Lake Resort State Park is also a popular stopping point for wintering bald eagles. “Eagle Watch” tours will begin in November and continue through February on Saturdays and Sundays. The 1 ⁄ 2- hour tours, beginning at the marina, will be offered on a daily basis from Wednesday through Sunday during the week of Thanksgiving. The cost for the tours is $9 for adults, $5 for youngsters ages 6 to12, and free for those under 6 years of age. Degray Lake Resort State Park will also be hosting its 35th annual “Eagles Et Cetera” event during the last weekend of January. Along with several barge tours, visitors will have the opportunity to see a live eagle up close as well as various other birds of prey visiting from the Little Rock zoo on Saturday.
So those who want to see a live bald eagle navigating Arkansas’ sky, might consider bundling up in their warmest winter attire and heading to one of our local state parks for a pleasant and educational barge ride while savoring an excursion in the wonderful outdoors. For more information, go to www.arkansasstateparks.com