Since 2010 park rangers at The Dalles Lock & Dam have hosted an annual Eagle Watch event from The Dalles Dam Visitor Center. The visitor center and adjacent Seufert Park is a hub for bird watchers, photographers and others seeking to see America’s National Symbol in action. This is because, located directly across the river from the visitor center and Seufert Park is The Dalles Dam and a green space on the south side of the dam, known as Westrick Park.
This green space, although not open to the public, is a prime winter roosting spot for migrating eagles due to the very nature of its secluded location. It’s quiet, dark at night, and free from much human disturbance. In addition, the area is blocked from the wind on one side and has many different perching options such as tall trees and snags, power towers, and rock islands for water access.
Wintering eagles often congregate at the confluence of rivers or around dams and powerhouses where the water is constantly turbulent. This is because turbulent water won’t freeze over in the winter, meaning guaranteed access to fish, their main source of food and the reason they are here! Eagles migrate in search of food and will return to the same communal roosting sites year after year. Mid-December through February it is common to see anywhere from 40 to 60 eagles in this one location! Then, once the weather warms and food is plentiful again, our winter guests return home to nest.