Every winter well over 100 Bald Eagles gather at Conowingo Dam, along the lower Susquehanna River in northern Maryland to feast on fish which are sucked through the giant turbines as this dam generates electricity for the Baltimore area.
And every winter I make at least one trip to Conowingo Dam to enjoy observing the many Bald Eagles perched in the trees, on the rocky shore, and in the electric towers that line the Susquehanna River right below the dam.
Lisel Shoffner Powell, of Wildlife South describes the spectacle:
The primary attraction at Conowingo dam is the large number of bald eagles that gather there in late November and early December. Up to 11 species of gulls also gather at the dam from mid-October through mid-March, but other birds such as great blue herons, black-crowned night herons, black vultures, terns, osprey, cormorants, anhingas, and ducks may also be seen. In fact, a great blue heron rookery occupies the large island just below the dam. Smaller numbers of gulls and eagles can be found year-round, making Conowingo one of the best and reliable places to view bald eagles in the eastern United States.
The first thing you may notice as you get out of your car may not be the Eagles, however. You’ll know exactly where to observe the Bald Eagles just by noticing the large flocks of birders with huge lenses attached to their cameras!
In addition to the Bald Eagles who spend the winter at Conowingo Dam, you’ll also notice huge flocks of Black Vultures, lots of gulls, and Great Blue Heron. How many Black Vultures do you see in my video?
But of course, the main attraction is definitely the Bald Eagles. When I was there last weekend, I counted over 125 Eagles, with many adults with their gleaming white heads and tails, and also many immature Eagles, who are a much darker mottled brown. It takes 5 years for Bald Eagles to attain adult plumage.
Bald Eagles are opportunistic feeders, whose main diet consists of fish which they snatch from rivers and lakes. But they will also eat carrion, and make use of other available food sources. They’re also often lazy hunters, waiting until another Eagle catches a fish, and then swooping in to try to steal it from them. For these reasons Benjamin Franklin was highly opposed to making the Bald Eagle the symbol of the US, preferring instead that the Wild Turkey be given this high honor.
You can see this pirate of the sky in action here in this video I created from my visit to Conowingo Dam last weekend:
Check out all of my photos from my visit to Conowingo Dam to see the Bald Eagles
Carole Sevilla Brown lives in Philadelphia, PA, and she travels the country speaking about Ecosystem Gardening for Wildlife. Check out her new free online course Ecosystem Gardening Essentials, 15 free lessons delivered to your inbox every week.
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