At the Kingsley and J-2 hydroelectric plants, the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District operates viewing centers that provide a warm place for people to watch eagles feed on fish that are injured or killed when passing through the plants.
Eagle counts are down at both locations due to drought-related factors, but birds are present most mornings. Counts peak in late December or early January at the J-2 facility and in February at Kingsley. In 1994, 368 eagles were counted one morning near the Kingsley facility.
Both facilities will open to the public on weekends from January 7 at 8 a.m. through late February. The best time to watch eagles feed is early in the morning. For more on Centralís viewing sites, visit www.cnppid.com/Eagle-viewing.htm.
A few bald eagle nests in Nebraska are visible from county roads. Donít disturb nesting eagles. Doing so is a violation of several federal laws. Always use binoculars or a spotting scope and watch the birds from a distance. Eagles typically arenít alarmed by vehicles, so stay inside yours if possible.
Good places to view eagles in and near Nebraska include:1. North Platte National Wildlife Refuge: Eagles often at Lake Minatare when it reopens to public Jan. 15. Birds might also be seen from hiking trails at Stateline Island south of Henry.
2. Bayard: Nest visible from Highway 26 ľ mile north of North Platte River bridge, west of highway.
3. Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge: Nest on north side of Crane Lake visible from road on south side lake. Four-wheel drive recommended.
4. Kingsley Dam: CNPPID viewing facility near spillway. Call (308) 284-2332 for hours and eagle counts.
5. Sutherland Reservoir: Warm water discharged from NPPD power plant into cooling pond on east side of lake provides open water in cold weather.
6. J-2 Power Plant: CNPPID Viewing facility located south of Lexington. Follow signs. Call (308) 324-2811 for hours and eagle counts.
7. Odessa: Nest visible west of Platte River bridge on south bank.
8. Harlan County Reservoir: An average of 150 eagles present in early January. Most viewed from
distance, binoculars a must. Dam area and Patterson Harbor best spots.
9. Deweese: Nest visible from county road, 12 south of Clay Center on Highway 14 and Ĺ west.
10. Scotia: Communal roost on North Loup River visible from Nebraska Highway 11 near Happy Jack Chalk Mine southeast of Scotia. Evenings best.
11. Arcadia Diversion Dam WMA: 4 south of Comstock, nest located near southeast corner of WMA, west of Middle Loup River bridge on south side of river.
12. Calamus Reservoir SRA: Nest visible from highway turnout on north side of lake between Gracie Creek and Valleyview Flat.
13. Fort Randall Dam: Pickstown, South Dakota. Up to 200 eagles are counted here in January or February. Viewing deck located in tailwaters area.
14. Gavins Point Dam: Twenty to 30 eagles winter in the area, visible below dam around Missouri
River and Lake Yankton.
15. Niobrara State Park: Nest on east side of Niobrara River south of Highway 14 bridge. Visible from park campground and county road south of highway on west side of river.
16. Pierce: Nest visible from county road Ĺ mile east and Ĺ south of Pierce.
17. Rogers: Nest located 1 1/2 miles east of Rogers along Highway 30, north bank of Platte River.
18. DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge: More than 100 eagles join snow geese in November, up to 243 in March. Watch from visitor center, viewing area or vehicle. Nest visible from road. (701) 642-4121.
19. Schramm Park SRA: 9 south of Gretna. Nest along Platte River south of Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium
visible from parking lot.
20. Squaw Creek NWR: Mound City, Missouri. Eagles at refuge from mid-November through February. Average peak is 300 with high of 476. Watch from towers, viewing stations and roads. Nest visible from one station. (660) 442-3187.