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Bald Eagles are Back!

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year.  I love the changing of the leaves, the crisp autumn air, the smell of wood smoke and my personal favorite – the migration of the multitude of bird species that come through the Central Flyway.  The Central Flyway is one of the preeminent migratory corridors in the world.  This annual event brings thousands of waterfowl, Sandhill Cranes and predatory raptor species through the Central Great Plains.  Around here, we call it the Nebraska flyway.  Not only do you get a chance to see a bonanza of birdwatching, but waterfowl hunting here is world class as well.

Image source: www.nebraskaflyway.com

If you’re a fan of National Geographic, you can catch a glimpse of the migratory importance the Central Flyway is to not just Sandhill Cranes, but also multitudes of ducks, geese and many other migratory bird species.  The latest edition of National Geographic magazine (and on the NatGeo Channel), the flyway is featured as part of an international broadcast on Great Migrations.

The flyway narrows significantly between Grand Island and Kearney, just south of Ord 65 miles (65 minutes).  This choke point on the flyway also means phenomenal bird watching and hunting in Ord and the Loup Valley.

Bald eagle fishing on the Calamus Reservoir; photo by Aaron Price

Bald eagles are one major raptor species that follows the waterfowl migration from the prairie potholes region in Canada and the southern Arctic to hunt.  Between November and March, you’ll find hundreds of eagles hunting the lakes, rivers, creeks and ponds all within 25 miles of Ord in every direction.  A few of the eagles even stay year-round, nesting on the woodland corridors around our area reservoirs.

If you get a chance to travel through the Loup Valley, you’ll see for yourself the splendor of this great migration, AND catch rare and intimate glimpses of a variety of bird species.  You can witness world class wildlife watching without traveling to the Serengeti Plain in Tanzania.

Below I’ve listed some of *my* favorite places around Ord where you can witness the phenomena of the fall migration.  Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and locations as well.

Bald eagle scanning the Calamus; photo by Aaron Price

Favorite places to watch eagles: Davis Creek Reservoir has some of the best eagle watching in the state.  Sure, so does Lake McConaughy, but you have to fight crowds to see them.  Davis Creek is 15 miles south of Ord and virtually devoid of people.  That makes some pretty intimate eagle watching experiences possible.  I’d also recommend Calamus Reservoir north of Ord 25 miles and west of Burwell 8 miles (Hanneman Bayou on the northwestern side is a great spot) and the scenic overlook south of Happy Jack Chalk Mine on Hwy. 11.  Riverview Cabin Retreat is a private destination that has some fantastic opportunities as well.  I was there in December of last year and counted 19 eagles in a giant old cottonwood, all were hunting ducks off of farm ponds.

Remember, if there is water, you’ll find birds.  You can check out our Water Sports page for access to the area reservoirs and rivers.  Minimum maintenance roads are also a good way to get a glimpse of birds on local ponds as well.  My personal favorite is Paider Road a half mile north of North Loup, off of Hwy 11 (head west). Please remember folks: almost all of the ponds in the area are private property.  If you don’t have permission, please don’t trespass.

Have fun out there.

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