We just finished volunteering at the 21st annual Eagle Watch in Culver Oregon. This was our second year of volunteering at this event and we can definitely recommend attending if you are in the area next February. It was a glorious weekend weather wise except for a bit of wind on Sunday, but perfect for being outdoors and enjoying the beautiful vistas of Lake Billy Chinook from the Round Butte Overlook Park.
The Eagle Watch was started in 1995 by Paul Patton, an Oregon State Parks resource specialist, as a free event to celebrate Lake Billy Chinook’s population of bald eagles and other raptors. Each year the sponsors set up Eagle Village at the park’s visitor center. Oregon State Parks, Portland General Electric (PGE), and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs are the event hosts.
Pairs of bald eagles and golden eagles live in the area year-round, and migrant bald eagles join the resident birds January-March. That makes this one of the largest gathering spots for eagles in the region. February is the peak time to see resident and migrating eagles soar over the picturesque cliffs of Lake Billy Chinook.
“This Eagle Watch has something for the entire family,” says event coordinator and Oregon State Parks Ranger Erin Bennett. “Visitors may glimpse our resident bald eagles and golden eagles, as well as learn about the eagle’s significance to local Native American culture and traditions.”
The event features activities to explore the natural and cultural significance of the birds. There were eagle spotters there with telescopes to help spot the eagles and other raptors at they soared over the lake.
The live golden eagle named Aquila is a 30-year-old blind golden eagle who was rehabilitated after being hit be a car. She was joined by another live bird, a great horned owl, who was also rehabilitated after being hit by a car. Both of these live birds were featured in the Sun River Nature center tent. Caretakers were present to give the history of these two birds and to answer questions.
The Golden Eagle Telemetry Study tent presented the results of studying the habits and breeding of the local golden eagle population.
Saturday and Sunday were filled with fun and educational activates in each tent for kids and adults alike and a free hot dog and chip lunch. Kids participated in a scavenger hunt and made commemorative Eagle Watch buttons, eagles from pine cones and paper plates and built a bird house on Saturday and a bird feeder on Sunday.
The Madras Garden Center showed how to create a backyard refuge and enjoy bird watching year-round. They also had seeds and plants to purchase.
The visitors center offered Eagle Watch souvenir sweatshirts, hats, water bottles, key chains, and coffee cups as well as a silent auction of donated items to benefit the Oregon Eagle Foundation.
On Sunday the Quartz Creek Drummers and Dancers presented tribal drumming. These dancers have performed world wide and not only danced, but shared their traditions and history. They are sponsored by the Warm Springs Power and Water Enterprises.
Location and Event Details
The Eagle Watch is located at PGE’s Round Butte Overlook Park 10 miles west of Madras. The two-day celebration runs 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday at the end of February each year. Check Oregon State Parks Event Calendar for the details if you wish to attend. You can also get the information of future events by calling 800-551-6949 or The Cove Palisades State Park at 541-546-3412.
Admission, parking and lunch are free. Cash and checks are accepted for purchasing Eagle Watch souvenirs. There is no ATM on site.