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Eagle Watch kicks off Feb. 23-24 near Madras

A mature bald eagle passes over downtown The Dalles in this file photo.

A mature bald eagle passes over downtown The Dalles in this file photo. Photo by Mark Gibson.

MADRAS — The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, Portland General Electric, The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, and The Crooked River National Grassland invite the public to attend the 18th annual Eagle Watch, a celebration of the cultural and ecological importance of the majestic birds of prey Feb. 23 and 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Round Butte Overlook Park, 10 miles west of Madras.

The area around Lake Billy Chinook is home to 10 breeding pairs of both bald and golden eagles year-round. Between January and March, migratory bald eagles enter the area and join the resident population, making for an impressive gathering of eagles and a great opportunity to view both species.

The event attracts hundreds to the Lake Billy Chinook area for a chance to spot the birds.

Eagle Watch kicks off at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 at the “Eagle Village” near the visitor center. Eagle Village is a collection of yurts staffed by federal, state, and local agencies, non-profit organizations, and regional experts that provide exhibits and information.

The Eagle Village will also offer activities for all ages, including guided bird walks, games, and prize drawings for birding gear. All proceeds from the sale of souvenir items will benefit the Oregon Eagle Foundation, which is dedicated to monitoring and protecting the eagle population and its nesting sites in Oregon.

Throughout the weekend, Sunriver Nature Center will hold live raptor shows, and visitors can stay warm by a bonfire. Children will enjoy interactive features in the Kids “Aerie,” such as a craft table where they can make a raptor mask or eagle balloon, and an adaptation station, where they can mimic an eagle diving to catch a fish or swoop up prey.

The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs will offer cultural program consisting of storytelling focused on eagle legends as well as drumming and the performance of traditional tribal dances culminating in the Eagle Dance.

Admission to all Eagle Watch events is free, and complimentary parking is available at Round Butte Overlook Park. Water will be provided courtesy of Earth2O. Shuttles will be on hand to transport people to nearby eagle-spotting viewpoints at The Cove Palisades State Park; parking at The Cove Palisades requires a state parks day-use permit.

Attendees can make reservations to camp or stay in a cabin at The Cove Palisades or Tumalo State Park (45 miles south) by calling 1-800-452-5687. Private camping is available at the Central Oregon KOA east of Culver and the Mountain View RV Park in Metolius.

At noon on Saturday, the 2013 Order of the Eagle will be awarded to an individual in recognition of outstanding services and contribution to raptor research and education. Activities and field eagle spotting sessions will start back up at 1:00 p.m., concluding at 4:00 p.m.

On Sunday at 1 p.m., the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will lead a “raptor I.D.” contest with prizes. At 2 p.m., The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs will offer cultural program consisting of storytelling focused on eagle legends as well as drumming and the performance of traditional tribal dances culminating in the Eagle Dance. At 3 p.m., the prize drawing will be held, and at 4:30 p.m., a bonus eagle viewing session will take place at Smith Rock State Park nine miles east of Redmond.

Admission to all Eagle Watch events is free, and complimentary parking is available at Round Butte Overlook Park. Water will be provided courtesy of Earth2O. Shuttles will be on hand to transport people to nearby eagle-spotting viewpoints at The Cove Palisades State Park; parking at The Cove Palisades requires a state parks day-use permit.

Attendees can make reservations to camp or stay in a cabin at The Cove Palisades or Tumalo State Park (45 miles south) by calling 1-800-452-5687. Private camping is available at the Central Oregon KOA east of Culver and the Mountain View RV Park in Metolius.

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