The eagles have landed
What: Skagit Eagle Festival
Where: Concrete, Rockport, and Marblemount
WHEN: Jan. 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, and 25-26
Cost: Varies; many events are free
Wednesday, January 1, 2020
When seeking out the birds of prey who are the star attractions of the Skagit Eagle Festival, keep in mind that you’re on their turf.
Organizers suggest those who plan to take part in eagle-watching events during the annual celebration happening Saturdays and Sundays through January in Concrete, Rockport, Marblemount and beyond use a telescope, binoculars or a telephoto lens to get a closer look at the vertebrates. They also caution to “keep noise low and your movements slow,” and to remain in your vehicle when possible to use it as a blind from which to take photographs.
Staying away from the river’s edge and gravel bars where eagles feed is also recommended, as are reminders to use public areas along the river and be courteous to local landowners. Drivers should also adjust their speed according to traffic and weather, keep an eye out for pedestrians, carry winter emergency gear, and be aware that cell phone reception is apt to be sketchy in eastern Skagit County.
To kick off the monthlong roster of activities, make plans ASAP to attend a Salmon Run and Nature Walk starting at 10am Sat., Jan. 4 in Concrete at Ovenell’s Heritage Inn. Attendees can choose to sign up for a 5K timed run, or join a family-friendly nature walk to look not only for eagles, but also for osprey, deer, elk and beaver. Whichever outing you choose, the routes along the river are guaranteed to be scenic.
Later that morning, a free Wildlife Hayride and Campfire originates from the Double O Ranch and continues through 250 acres of timber, pasture and a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. While keeping an eye out for birds and beasts, guests will learn more about conservation projects, selective timber harvesting, and how wildlife habitat can be enhanced by ranching practices.
Throughout the month, eagle-watching stations at Howard Miller Steelhead Park, educational events at the Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center, and Skagit River Eagle Viewing and Photography Tours will offer a closer look at the majestic birds, but each weekend will also bring additional activities.
On Jan. 11-12, for example, a Native American History, Storytelling, and More event at Marblemount Community Hall will add tale-telling, music, puppetry and more to the mix. Jan. 18 brings a Night Sky Photography presentation with Andy Porter to the Concrete Theatre, and a Birds of Prey presentation taking place Jan. 25 at Concrete High School will see reps from the Sarvey Wildlife Care Center offering an insider’s glimpse at the wildlife in Puget Sound.
However you choose to celebrate the Skagit Eagle Festival—whether it’s on a solitary expedition in Rockport or with friends or family on a hayride—remember that nature takes center stage during this annual event, and adjust your behavior accordingly.
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