Thirteen years ago, Paul Patton, a remarkable Oregon Parks and Recreation Department manager who looks after parks in the Madras area introduced the first Eagle Watch in cooperation with PGE, Warm Springs Federation and a bunch of other good people.
Even the eagles cooperated, thanks to the efforts of Frank Isaacs and the team of cooperators and volunteers he put together through the 30-plus years he has guided the Oregon Bald Eagle Recovery Plan. Bald eagle populations have - like the Phoenix - risen out of the ashes of near extinction to the point where, as many people put it, "Eagles are everywhere."
The 13th annual event will feature speakers including Isaacs and others in the raptor business. There will be activities for participants of all ages, and organized viewing sessions from 9am to 4pm on Sat., Feb. 23, and from 10am to 3pm on Sun., Feb. 24. Just follow the Eagle Watch signs posted alongside the road at critical junctions from Culver to Round Butte and you can't go wrong.
"We have ten pairs of year-round resident bald eagles now in the Lake Billy Chinook area," explained event coordinator Paul Patton. "Between January and March, they're joined by migrant birds primarily from Canada and Alaska. Their arrival offers a spectacular learning experience," he said.
Along with guided eagle watch, excursions to viewpoints around the lake and a Saturday afternoon birding hike, the two-day event will offer birds of prey demonstrations and special 20-minute presentations by regional raptor experts at Overlook Park.
The viewing tours and the birding hike will originate at Overlook Park. The eagle excursions are scheduled from 10:30am to noon and 1 to 3:30pm Sat. and from 10am to noon on Sun. The birding strolls will be led from 1 to 3:30pm Sat. and 10am to noon Sunday. Early risers can get a head start on Sunday's viewing activities by joining the annual Sunrise Eagle Tour beginning at 5:30am at The Cove Palisades State Park.
For more information on Eagle Watch 2008, call the Oregon State Parks Information Center at 1-800-551-6949. Event details also are posted at www.oregonstateparks.org or contact Paul Patton @ 541-923-7551.
Don't forget your binoculars!