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Make Reservations Now For Eagle Viewing Area



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Make Reservations Now

For Eagle Viewing Area

SOUTHBURY — Beginning Tuesday, December 7, the public may make reservations to visit the Northeast Utilities (NU) Shepaug Bald Eagle Observation area. This year marks the 15th season the NU has invited the public to visit its bald eagle observation area located near the Shepaug Hydroelectric station on the Housatonic River in Southbury.

The observation area will be open from December 29 through March 22, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays (except New Year’s Day) from 9 am to 1 pm. Admission is free and reservations are required.

The Shepaug Dam area is especially appealing to eagles in winter months when the station is in operation because the turbulence below the dam keeps the water from freezing over and the fish are brought to the surface to provide a reliable food source for the hungry eagles. On average about nine eagles feed at the dam daily; however, as birds in the wild, there is no guarantee that they will be present or visible.

The viewing area is located about 1,000 feet away from the dam, which is enough distance to give the public the opportunity to experience the eagles without disturbing them.

“Bald eagles are easily upset and any disturbances at winter feeding areas can pose threatening situations for the birds, so protection zones around sites of eagle activity are required,” said Gary K. Smolen, NU engineer and program coordinator.

The program is managed by NU with volunteers from the Nature Conservancy of Connecticut under the guidance of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. Last year over 50 Nature Conservancy volunteers contributed more than 1,000 man-hours toward the operation of the Observation Center. “The Nature Conservancy is delighted to take part in this program,” said Chris Joyell, volunteer coordinator for the Connecticut Chapter. “We look forward to another exciting winter at Shepaug Dam.”

The facility first opened in 1985 and since that time more than 82,500 people have visited the site to view the wintering birds in their natural habitat.

Reservations for individuals and groups can be made Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm (except holidays) by calling toll-free 800/368-8954. In order to allow for enjoyment by as many visitors as possible, only one reservation is permitted per family per viewing season. Any individual or group which arrives without a reservation will not be admitted.

The shelter area is unheated so visitors are advised to dress warm. Visitors are also urged to bring binoculars since there are a limited number of viewing scopes available.

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