CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – While some types of birds relocate during the winter months, Massachusetts has several snowbirds that can still be seen hunting or perched in a tree, including the bald eagle.

Winter is a great time for bird watchers to view seasonal snowbirds that visit Massachusetts. You can expect to find seabirds, sea ducks, back-capped chickadees, downy woodpeckers, white-breasted nuthatches, and bald eagles.

Massachusetts was designated as a restoration state in the 1980s when MassWildlife took young eaglets from wild nests in Canada and raised them in the Quabbin Reservoir. Once the birds were ready to survive on their own, they were released. These efforts continued into 2003. Now, there have been more than 70 breeding pairs recorded in the state and that number is increasing at an accelerating rate.

Where you can spot a bald eagle

Bald eagles typically live near bodies of water, where they use shoreline habitats and forested areas for nesting. They prefer bodies of water with a good supply of moderate- to large-sized fish. In western Massachusetts, one of the best places residents have seen bald eagles is along the Connecticut River. MassWildlife has other tips on spotting an eagle:

• Eagles are drawn to open waters. When lakes and ponds begin to freeze, there are fewer areas of open waters which may make eagles easier to find.
• Eagles often gather below dams if water is being released.
• If you see an eagle once, visit that site again. Eagles tend to return to the same section of shoreline or even the same tree throughout the season and year after year.
• Look for large nests in big trees. Massachusetts is home to over 70 nesting pairs. If you do spot a nest, keep your distance and observe from afar.
• If you see an eagle, watching with binoculars from inside your vehicle is a great way to observe the birds without disturbing them and you’ll stay warm.

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In the mid to late winter, bald eagles begin looking for a partner if they aren’t already paired. In December and February, they then begin to build large nests using large sticks and sprigs of pine, grasses and other materials. Male eagles will collect the materials while their mates construct the nest. Once a nest is made, the mated pairs return every year. Egg layer occurs in early March to early April.

If you find an eagle’s nest in Massachusetts, you are asked to report your observation to MassWildlife at

Adults can live up to 30 years old, however, mortality is high among immature bald eagles. They are currently listed as a special concern in Massachusetts.

Bald eagles are protected under federal and state laws. It is illegal to destroy, relocate, or possess bald eagles, their nests and eggs in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Federal law also protects all parts of bald eagles, alive or dead and including feathers and egg shells, without a federal, state or tribal permit.