Annual Eagle Watch slated for Feb. 2

It’s time to see the big birds at Big Bend again.

The annual Eagle Watch will return to the Kinzua Dam area from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2.

“When the cold expanse of Allegheny Reservoir behind the dam freezes over and ice forms downstream in Allegheny River, the open tailwaters below the dam become prime fishing waters for eagles,” Park Ranger Steve Lauser of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said. “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 Kinzua Dam.”

At the 2012 version of the event, “nearly 500 visitors to the Big Bend Recreation Area viewed juvenile and adult eagles, just downstream from the dam,” Lauser said. “Other wintering birds and cold-water creatures were also observed.”

In addition to watching eagles, the event includes an audio-visual program by Pennsylvania Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer David Donachy on eagle restoration efforts and a Geomeet – Caching with Eagles – with several temporary geocaches set up in the recreation area organized by Kinzua Cachers.

Last year, people from all over northwestern Pennsylvania and western New York, as well as visitors from the Cleveland and Pittsburgh areas signed the visitor log.

“It was an excellent event,” Lauser said. “Visitors were thrilled to see eagles and walk on the dam. They loved the eagle program, too.”

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers staff and volunteers will be available to help visitors at three locations: Big Bend Visitor Center, Riverside Watchable Wildlife Trail and Viewing Platform (located along Allegheny River tailwaters), and Kinzua Dam roadway. Spotting scopes will also be available at each site.

The “recreational, observational, and educational” program is free to the public, but identification will be required for those over 18 years of age who want to watch from the roadway across the dam.

The event is sponsored by the Corps of Engineers, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Penn Soil Resource Conservation and Development Council, Kinzua Cachers, Allegheny Outdoor Club, and Eagles Club Warren Aerie 313. More information is available by contacting Lauser at 726-0661 or Bill Massa of the Allegheny Outdoor Club at 723-2568.