One Saturday morning about 8 a.m. before the first guests arrived for breakfast there was quite a ruckus on the lake from the dining room windows. The water was perfectly calm except for a pretty serious wave rolling to the east about 40 feet wide. A large flock of ducks was tightly huddled and moving quickly together as one body.
The reason for their distress was two bald eagles that were swooping in towards them looking for their breakfast. It was quite a spectacle and lasted for only a few minutes before the eagles flew off. There wasn’t even time to get a camera before the eagles had left looking for easier prey.
January and February are bald eagle watching time on the area lakes in Hot Springs. No matter how many times I see an eagle they always take my breath away, and all work stops. With a wing-span of up to 8 feet, they weigh between 9-12 pounds with a length of 35-40 inches. It’s a majestic sight to see one soaring!
One morning at home I looked out to spy two bald eagles that spent most of the day feasting on an animal carcass by the edge of the water. These two eagles took turns at the feast, with lesser birds of prey hovering and hoping for a turn.
According to wild-bird-watching.com, suggestions for embarking on an eagle watching expedition include:
• Get out early. The best time to see one is when the temperature is rising during mid-to late morning
• Stay behind a blind. A tree or a car acts as a blind. People walking around or towards a perched eagle will chase it off its roost. (Note: “our” eagles don’t seem to mind our dog running around!)
• Look near the waterways. Eagles stay about ¾ of the way up trees while fishing from the banks.
• Look into a guided tour in the area.
• Report any nest sightings. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission monitors all eagle nests in the state as part of nationwide conservation efforts.
• Be mindful of the law. Possession of an eagle feather or other body part is a felony with a fine of up to $10,000.
In Hot Springs, eagle watching tours are scheduled on the area lakes. Lake Ouachita has bald eagle tours scheduled for Jan. 25 and 31. For more information or reservations call 501.767.9366. Lake DeGray (501.865.5850) in Bismark has multiple tours scheduled for Jan. 23-25.
At Lookout Point Inn we’d love to have you come to watch for bald eagles and stay with us at our Hot Springs bed and breakfast. We are situated on Lake Hamilton and all of our rooms have a view of the lake. So depending on the flight pattern of the eagles, you might just catch a glimpse of these splendid birds from your patio or balcony.