IRON COUNTY — Over 20 people kicked off February — touted as the best month to view bald eagles — by braving cold, wet conditions to see “America’s most iconic birds” in person.

A man watches eagles, Iron County, Utah, Feb. 2, 2024 | Photo by Alysha Lundgren, Cedar City News

On Friday, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources invited the community to get a peak at the birds at Iron County’s Rush Lake. Multiple DWR staff members, including wildlife biologist Danielle Finlayson and conservation outreach manager Adam Kavalunas, were available to answer attendees’ questions.

People of all ages trickled to and from the event dressed in their winter attire, peering through scopes, binoculars and cameras. They collected buttons and informational packets.

Attendee Scott Knowles told Cedar City News that the “love of eagles” attracted him to the event.

“I love the bald eagles,” he said. “I didn’t realize that we had bald eagles here at all. So I’m excited to learn where they are so I can actually come and see them at other times.”

In the winter, bald eagles fly south to find food and escape the north’s colder conditions. Many of these eagles land in Southern Utah, often seen in mature cottonwood trees near water bodies throughout Iron County, Finlayson told Cedar City News. The raptors will hunt for fish but are otherwise known to scavenge, often seeking out roadkill.

An eagle perches on a cottonwood tree, Iron County, Utah, Feb. 2, 2024 | Photo by Alysha Lundgren, Cedar City News

Eagles are most often spotted at dawn and dusk, and while there were three perched in the trees nearby, Kavalunas said he expected more to roost as the sun set. Viewers spotted bald eagles, kestrels — a small falcon — and ravens.

The ravens appeared to tease the larger raptors, cawing while they swooped and dived around the eagles. In one case, an eagle appeared to “shove” a corvid away with its wings, and in another, witnesses claimed the raptor defecated on it.

“Eagles, hawks, owls — ravens love to pester them,” Kavalunas said.

When viewing wildlife, the division reminds Southern Utahns to do so safely in this news release.

“Don’t drive distracted, and don’t stop in the middle of the road if you see an eagle,” the agency states. “Instead, pull completely off the road before viewing. Your safety, and the safety of other motorists, comes first.”

Additionally, while bald eagles are no longer listed under the Endangered Species Act, it is illegal to harass them, and viewers should keep their distance, Finlayson said. They are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Lacey Act.

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