There is something quite spectacular about seeing an eagle soaring in the Oklahoma sky.
The times I've been witness to this magnificent creature fill me with wonder. As they soar and loop on the breezes that abound, they help us to remember why the bald eagle is the symbol of our nation and our freedom.
But if you have never seen one in person, there are numerous opportunities to do so around the Sooner State.
Migrating from Canada and the northern states in search of warmer climates, the eagles seem to be drawn to Oklahoma's lakes and rivers. And a typical winter can bring anywhere between 800 and 2,000 eagles to Oklahoma during the season's peak.
The more popular locations for eagle watching are the large lake areas such as Texoma, Tenkiller, Great Salt Plains, Spavinaw, Fort Gibson, Kaw and Canton. And you should check out the spillways, especially when water is being released, as they are very good places to search.
In January, Sequoyah State Park will host eagle tours. The activities begin early at the Three Forks Nature Center, where refreshments are provided and after a brief presentation, you'll head to Fort Gibson where there are a couple of established nests.
In northern Oklahoma sits Kaw Lake, covering 17,000 surface acres. It has 168 miles of shoreline. Kaw Lake has one of the state's largest populations of bald eagles, and on Jan. 18, you'll be able to attend Kaw City's annual Ultimate Eagle Watch. Starting at 7 a.m. at the Community Center in Kaw City, activities will run through 3 p.m. Those activities will include guided tours and educational programs. You'll even have a chance to get within about 10 feet of a live bald eagle in the community center that day, as well as take part in eagle watching, and that's from horseback! That will take place east of Kaw City at the Sarge Creek Campground.
Tenkiller State Park has eagle watches scheduled for Jan. 18 and 25 as well as Feb. 1, 8, 15 and 22 and March 1. The eagle tours take place at Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge.
Other Oklahoma state parks have eagle watches scheduled as well. For example, there will be an eagle watch at Greenleaf State Park at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Jan. 11. And for Lake Thunderbird State Park, watches will be held Dec. 29, Jan. 12, Feb. 9 and 23 and March 9.
Don't forget, those guided events are a lot of fun, but the eagles will still be around when the tour guides are not, so keep self-guided tours in mind.
You can find a tremendous amount of eagle watch information by going to the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation Department's website, www.travelok.com. While there, be sure and order your free Outdoor Recreation Guide.
Dino Lalli is the producer, co-host and one of the reporters for the weekly television travel show “AAA's Discover Oklahoma.”