Marina Monday: Winter Guests - Eagles on Lake Ouachita

Bundle up tight, slip on your goloshes, pack a sandwich - and go bird-watching!

Among the many beautiful things about Lake Ouachita, a special late Fall/winter presence of Bald Eagles is a real sight to behold. They begin arriving sometimes as early as mid-October, depending on the temperatures in their summer homes, which are much further Northward. They will stay on Ouachita as long as late as February and early March, choosing the Ouachitas and Ozarks because of our  mild winters.

It's  been documented that some 17,000 eagles may winter here year-to-year. How do you spot an eagle? ... and carefully avoid confusing it with the many buzzards and red-tailed hawks in the area? The eagles are the only to have white feathers on their head. They're not actually "bald," at all - the unique white color usually catches the sun as they move upward, so one of the surest ways to figure out if you're looking at an eagle is to judge whether its pristine head "shines" as the sunlight hits it. The males and the females look almost identical - with the gals just usually weighing a little more and having a few more inches in their wingspan over the guys.

The Bald Eagle was made our National Emblem in 1782. Endangered in 48 states for many years, the species has made a wonderful comeback because of so many conservation efforts. Find these creatures nesting among Ouachita's many islands, and soaring along the shoreline. They choose Lake Ouachita, among other bodies of water, because they LOVE the fish! Their habitat is always along bodies of water. Wondering how they choose a spot for the nest? The tree's height is not as important to them as visibility will be. They like to have a broad view of the area around them to watch for enemies, and, to spot fish and rodents.

The nearby Ouachita State Park offers eagle tours as early as December 22nd, and will continue those after Christmas through early Spring. You'll also enjoy several tours leaving from the Harbor Marina after the holidays, alongside special programs about these gorgeous creatures. Those dates will be posted at http://www.mountainharborresort.com/events/.

Don't miss a chance to share this experience with the whole family. There's not a more unique way to experience Lake Ouachita in the winter!