Bald Eagles have been our national emblem since 1782. They are majestic birds and fun to see in the wild. The winter time is the best time to see them in Utah, especially near large bodies of water. They have dark brown feathers except on their heads and tails, which are white. They actually don’t turn fully white until they are 4-5 years old. Their legs and bills are bright yellow.
Where to Find Eagles
I wish I could guarantee we could find a bird when we look. It is tricky and it partly is learning about where birds are likely to be and partly luck that they come while you are there. Wildlife photography definitely takes patience.
This bird was photographed at Utah Lake State Park. Bald Eagles and other birds of prey like that area because that is where the Provo River enters Utah Lake. There are lots of ducks, fish and other potential food in that area, so it’s a great place to look.
Other great places to look are on other shores of the lake, particularly on the east and north shores. I found this bald eagle by Loch Lomond Pond.
These two bald eagles were found just south of Vineyard Beach. One is a juvenile so the white is still a bit mottled.
Farmington Bay and the Bear River Bird Refuge by Brigham City are also great places to look for eagles. They will migrate farther north in March, sometimes as far north as Alaska, so now in February is a fantastic time to watch for them.
Helpful Bird Watching Apps
There are also helpful apps to show you where wildlife have been seen. eBird and iNaturalist are both great apps. There is also Merlin Bird ID to help you identify birds you see. These images are where bald eagles have been seen in the last 30 days. Yu can make that the last 7 days and look below for where multiple birds have been spotted. The first image is farther south in Salt Lake and Utah Counties. The second image is farther north in Weber and Davis Counties. This app works in all different areas. You can also do the reverse and look up an area and see which birds have been seen there.
Here are more photos from Utah Lake State Park. The focus was a little off in a few of these when the bald eagle was moving quickly, and a few were into the sun, but they are still interesting photos. Here are some of the bird in flight. You can more easily see the white tail.
You probably need a fairly good zoom on your camera to get decent bird photography. I only have 300 zoom, but a 600 telephoto lens is really recommended for photographing wildlife, so you can get a clear shot from farther away. I am still pleased with the clarity I was able to get on some of these photos.
I also saw a hawk while I was at the Utah Lake State Park. I had to photograph it with the sun behind, so it’s not as clear as it would otherwise be. It looks like it’s probably a red-tailed hawk.
Other places to go for bird watching is Farmington Bay and Antelope Island in Davis County, the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge near Brigham City, or Powell Lake, and Highland Glen Pond in Utah County.
Stats: Distance – 0-1 mile round trip
Approximate hiking time – 0-60 minutes
Elevation gain – 10 feet
Difficulty – Easy
Trail – paved trail, grass or dirt
Bathrooms – At Utah Lake State Park
Seasons – Year Round (Eagles are most common in November-February)
Permits needed – $15/vehicle per day or Utah State Parks Pass (you can look nearby for free)
Pets allowed – Yes
Map to Utah Lake State Park