CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – You may not expect it but birding in the winter season is actually a popular activity in Massachusetts. Winter is the time for watchers to spot the state’s year-round birds, seasonal “snowbirds” and most importantly… bald eagles!
Massachusetts is one of the most successful states in restoring the population of bald eagles, and it shows. 22News receives photos of bald eagles spotted in western Massachusetts year round. Here are some tips from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife to spot an eagle:
- Eagles are drawn to open waters. As many lakes and ponds 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 do 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.
Why are eagles so frequently seen in the winter?
It’s courtship and nesting season! In mid to late winter, bald eagles find a partner and then they work together to build a large nest, typically between December and February. Bald eagles use large sticks to build nests and line them with pine, grasses and other soft materials. Male eagles typically deliver the sticks while their mate constructs and organizes the nest.
If you see a bald eagle carrying a stick to a nest, report it to MassWildlife at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the location and date when you saw the eagle. MassWildlife can use the information to find new bald eagle nests and monitor the eagle population.
Other tips for birding in the winter season are to dress warmly, don’t get too close to birds and use the right equipment, such as binoculars, spotting scopes, or long distance camera lenses.