Best Nebraska Eagle Birding Sites
As of 2012, over 100 pairs of bald eagles were nesting in Nebraska, and the wintering population exceeded 1,000 birds.
In the winter, the best locations to see bald eagles at close range are in Lake McConaughy and the J-2 Power Plant. The maximum numbers of birds at the J-2 facility usually occur in December and early January, while at Kingsley Dam the peak typically occurs in February, with as many as 368 birds reported. The dam and the heated facility at the base of the dam, which is available seasonally, provide the best view of the eagles.
For more information on these viewing sites, visit: www.cnppid.com/operations/wildlife-habitat/centrals-eagle-viewing-facilities/
In January, the average of about 150 eagles have been present at Harlan County Dam have been present, but on average 400 eagles have been reported as well. At DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge, the eagles closely follow the snow geese, with peaks in November and March as the geese move through. A maximum of 243 have been seen in March. The North Platte National Wildlife Refuge is also sometimes good in winter, especially at Lake Minatare in mid-January, when it opens to public use. At Gavin’s Point Dam an average of 20-30 eagles are present around the dam and on adjacent Lake Yankton.
The eagle movement across Nebraska’s Missouri Valley can be seen at places like Lake Manawa (Council Bluffs) and Carter Lake (Omaha), especially when the ice is breaking up in early spring, exposing many dead fish. Typically 10-30 eagles can be seen at Branched Oak Lake at the same time. A winter roost is visible southeast of Scotia. Along Highway 11, near Happy Jack Chalk Mine.
The are several places in Nebraska where active eagle nests might be seen, although viewers should always use spotting scopes and view from an appropriate distance of 100 yards or more.
Eagle Nests in Western Nebraska
- Bayard: A nest is visible from Highway 26, 1/2 mile north of the latte River Bridge, west side.
- Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge: A nest on the north side of Crane Lake is visible from the road on the south side of the lake. Driving on these sandy trails is treacherous.
Eagle Nests in Central Nebraska
- Odessa: A nest is visible on the south bank of the Platte River bridge, west side.
- Calamus Reservoir State Recreation Area: A nest is visible from the highway turnout on the north side of the lake, between Gracie Creek and Valleyview Flat.
Eagle Nests in Northern Nebraska
- Niobrara State Park: A nest is visible from the park campground, and county road south of the highway, west side of river.
- Pierce: A nest is visible from the county road 1/2 mile east and 1/2 mile south of Pierce.
Eagle Nests in Eastern Nebraska
- Lake Wanahoo State Recreation Area: The nest is located in the middle of the lake east of the boat ramp.