Bald Eagle Loop

Bald Eagle Trail

As of 2012, over 100 pairs of bald eagles were nesting in Nebraska, and the wintering population exceeded 1,000 birds. For persons wishing to see wintering bald eagles, there are several available locations, but Lake McConaughy (including Kingsley Dam and Lake Ogallala) and the J-2 Power Plant, a hydroelectric plant of the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District (C.N.P.P.I.D) near Lexington, are perhaps the best places to see large numbers of birds at close range. 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. At Kingsley Dam good views can be had from the dam itself, but a heated facility at the base of the dam is also seasonally available. Both of the C.N.P.P.I.D. viewing facilities are open from January 7 to early February. For more information on these viewing sites visit: www.cnppid.com/Eagle-viewing.htm. For hours of operation and current eagle counts at the C.N.P.P.I.D J-2 plant, call 308/324-2811. For hours and eagle counts at the Kingsley facility, call 308/284-2332.

Several other Nebraska and nearby states offer good eagle-viewing opportunities during winter months. As many as 400 eagles have been reported at Harlan County Dam, but in January and average of about 150 are present. 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. Farther north, at Fort Randall Dam (Pickstown,. SD), as many as 200 eagles may be seen in January or February, and an eagle-viewing desk is located in the tailwaters area. Likewise, at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge (south of Mound City, MO), an average of 300 eagles are present during winter, with a usual peak in December before the snow geese move farther south.. An Eagle Days celebration is held annually in early December. The eagle movement up and down Nebraska's Missouri Valley can also 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 from 10-30 eagles can also be seen at Branched Oak Lake at the same time, with smaller numbers at the other Salt Valley lakes. A winter roost is visible southeast of Scotia. Along Highway 11, near Happy Jack Chalk Mine.

The are now 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 nest sites in western Nebraska include the following:

  1. Bayard. A nest is visible from Highway 26, 1/2 mile north of the latte River Bridge, west side.
  2. 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 include the following:

  1. Odessa. A nest is visible on the south bank of the Platte River bridge, west side.
  2. 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 include the following:

  1. Niobrara State Park. A nest is visible from the park campground, and county road south of the highway, west side of river.
  2. 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 include the following:

  1. Lake Wanahoo State Recreation Area, the nest is located in the middle of the lake east of the boatramp.

    Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala

    Lake McConaughy

    Bald Eagle

    Lake McConaughy