Audubon, FirstLight celebrate bald eagle viewing
On Saturday, Jan. 16, FirstLight is holding a small ceremony to thank the Connecticut Audubon Society and the many volunteers who put in time to welcome visitors and teach them about Connecticut's eagles and other birds. Trish Kevalis, the lead teacher-naturalist at Audubon’s Center at Fairfield, will be there with three raptors — a hawk, an owl and a falcon — that the organization uses in its education programs.
Eagle viewing is from 9 a.m. til 1 p.m. and the ceremony will start at 1:30 p.m. People who have made a reservation to visit the eagle viewing site on Saturday (call 800-368-8954 or reserve a space online, gdfsuezna.com/shepaug), are invited to the ceremony.
The viewing area at the Shepaug Hydroelectric Station provides visitors with a panoramic view over the dam, the Housatonic River, Lake Lillinonah and the Paugussett State Forest in the distance. Each winter bald eagles gather near the dam to hunt for fish.
The viewing station is open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays through the first weekend in March, from 9 a.m. til 1 p.m. FirstLight Power, which owns the dam and viewing station, has made improvements to the viewing building and has supplied it with new spotting scopes and binoculars.
The bald eagle viewing is free and open to the public but, because space is limited, reservations are necessary.
Some 144,000 people have visited since the eagle viewing station opened in 1986. bald eagles were relatively rare in Connecticut then, but even today, with a resurgent bald eagle population in the state and elsewhere, it is still one of the best places to view and learn about these magnificent birds.
Although with wildlife viewing nothing is guaranteed, the site averaged almost six bald eagles per viewing day during the 2014-15 season, with a high of 20 eagles on one occasion. Only once last year was there as few as one eagle.
The Connecticut Audubon Society has been working at the Shepaug Hydroelectric Station since 2001. The staff coordinates the site’s volunteers and its educators often bring owls and hawks from its raptor compound in Fairfield to display.