Wildlife Viewing Tips
For the best viewing, try to be at the Eagle Watcher sites with your binoculars and spotting scopes between dawn and 11 a.m. The early-riser may be treated to the nearby twitterings and ‘chak-chaks’ of feeding bald eagles. Eagles feed by the river’s edge where dead salmon wash up on river bars. When eagles are feeding, visitors are cautioned not to disturb or approach them too closely. Eagles waste valuable energy fleeing humans who come too close or create a disturbance.
Cloudy or overcast days are the BEST days to see and photograph bald eagles on the Skagit River. On days like this, after eating, bald eagles stay close to the river, perching in trees, digesting their morning meal, and conserving energy. On days with bright sun, eagles are more active and a large number virtually disappear—riding unseen updrafts—soaring (or “kettling”) thousands of feet above the valley floor—distant specks in a vast field of blue.
For the night, eagles congregate on the branches of big old-growth trees—like those in Rockport State Park. In the late afternoon, a hiker in the beautiful old growth forests of Rockport State Park may be rewarded with a chorus of eagle chatterings and vocalizations from the night roosts high overhead.
FOR YOUR COMFORT WEAR WARM, WATERPROOF OUTDOOR CLOTHING AND STURDY FOOTGEAR.
FOR YOUR SAFETY:
- Several supervised Eagle Watching Sites, with telescopes, are provided for your use. Also, there are dozens of pullouts along the highways. If you use these pullouts, be sure to signal, drive carefully and pull completely off the pavement.
- Take care while driving! Avoid stopping on narrow road shoulders, be sure you are completely off the pavement, and please don’t stop on the highway.
- Be aware of winter road conditions. On a few occasions, there is ice or slush.
- Respect private property. We are happy to share this natural wonder but treat us as neighbors.
- Watch your children closely—especially by the river—banks or trees near the river may be undercut and steep.
- Pets should be kept on a leash in viewing areas. Do not allow pets to approach eagles or their feeding areas.
Bring your binoculars and telephoto lenses for best viewing. Again, please don’t startle or approach the eagles. Keep an eye out for other birds and wildlife that use the waterways: ducks, geese, ravens, blue herons, deer, beaver, otter, raccoons and bear.
We hope you have a great experience viewing the Bald Eagles of the Skagit River. Visit the Interpretive Center in Rockport for maps and directions to other great self-guided hikes in Howard Miller and Rockport State Parks, and Pressentin County Park. Also, on weekends, guides at the Marblemount Fish Hatchery offer tours of their salmon spawning operations (feeding the salmon is fun for kids!). While you are visiting keep an eye out for other wildlife like ducks, geese, ravens, blue herons, deer, black bear, cougar, beaver, otter, and raccoons. Take a look at the Washington Birding Trail Map for more information.