January is National Bald Eagle month and what better way to celebrate our national emblem than to view these birds in person? Conveniently, winter is the best time to see bald eagles in the wild. Here is your guide to viewing bald eagles in the US Northeast – either by land or while sailing the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways.
Bald eagles are the only eagle that is unique to North America. Look for the eagle’s distinctive white head and tail with a brown body. Bald eagles spend most of their time in the air gliding with their wings in almost a straight line on either side of their bodies. They spend little time flapping their wings. Bald eagles have yellow legs and feet and hooked beaks.
You don’t have to be an experienced bird watcher to enjoy viewing bald eagles. Their large size and proximity to water make bald eagles easier for even children and novice nature enthusiasts to spot.
Each winter bald eagles from Alaska and Canada head south to take advantage of the warmer weather in places like the Chesapeake Bay. Although bald eagles were endangered during the 1970s, their population numbers have rallied back since then, providing more opportunities to see these majestic birds in person.
In addition to the larger number of eagles present in the states during winter, the lack of foliage on trees makes eagles easier to see. Many of us tend to think of bald eagles as living primarily in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, each winter eagles congregate along the waterways in every state except Hawaii.
Fortunately for those of us living in the Northeast, the Chesapeake Bay now has one of the highest concentrations of bald eagles in the lower 48 states. Chesapeake Bay is home to breeding pairs of bald eagles in addition to hosting eagles to visit each winter from further north.