Soar with the birds for Eagle Watch Weekend

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Look, up in the sky! It's a bird; it's a plane; no, wait, it really is a bird. An eagle, in fact. Like many snowbirds, the eagles spend the winter in northwest Arkansas far away from the frigid Canadian winds. Get a closer look and learn more about these majestic birds of prey with the Eagle Watch Weekend, Jan. 25-27. Eagle-watching cruises aboard the Belle of the Ozarks depart from Rocky Branch Marina at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. for each day of the event; each two-hour cruise explores the birds' winter habitat on Beaver Lake with an experienced guide. Bring a camera, because you'll see eagles swoop, circle and fly as they relax during their off-season vacation. Winter is a social time for both mature and immature eagles, and viewers will be in awe of the birds' power, prowess and grace in nature.

  This year's guides include Flip Putthoff of the Morning News of Northwest Arkansas, an outdoor journalist and enthusiast; Alan Bland of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Doug James, professor of biological science at the University of Arkansas and co-author of "Arkansas Birds;" Lynn Sciumbato of Morning Star Wildlife Rehabilitation Center; and Jim Helt and Mary Anne Viator of the Belle of the Ozarks. Each tour will be helmed by Captain Jay Viator, also of the Belle of the Ozarks. Since these cruises are outdoors in January, remember to dress in layers with hat or hooded coat, gloves, warm socks and footwear; optional gear includes pocket warmers, camera and binoculars.

  Rocky Branch Marina is located twelve miles east of Rogers; take Highway 23 South to Highway 12, then take Road 303 for four miles. Turn left at the intersection of Park Road, then take first right inside the the park to Rocky Branch Marina.

  On Saturday evening, there will be a buffet dinner and talk at the Prairie Creek Steak and Seafood Company at 6 p.m., followed by a talk by Lynn Sciumbato on birds of prey and wildlife rehabilitation. Cost for the dinner is $12.50 per person, $4.50 for children under 12. After the dinner and talk, there will be an Owl Prowl with Bob and Cathy Ross; space is limited for the prowl.

  Pre-paid reservations are required for all cruises; admission for the cruise is $18 for adults and $7.50 for children under 12. Part of the proceeds will benefit Morning Star Rehabilitation Center. To make reservations, or for more info, call 479-253-6200 or 800-552-3803, or email In case of inclement weather, the Eagle Watch weekend will move to Feb. 1-3; the organizers will call each participant if there is a change in departure date and time.

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