When you see a bald eagle, its hard to imagine a wild turkey as our nations symbol.
Thats what might have happened if Benjamin Franklin had gotten his way. Thankfully, his suggestion to name our national bird was overridden, and the bald eagle became our standard in 1782.
Spending any time watching this grand bird, whether in flight or on a perch, leaves no doubt that our forefathers made the right choice more than 200 years ago.
Once rare to the point of being on the Endangered Species list, eagles are now common and can be seen in the Treasure Valley and many river corridors in Southwest Idaho.
One of the most common places to see eagles during fall and winter is at the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge near Nampa.
Addison Mohler, the refuges wildlife biologist, said there are 28 eagles currently residing at Lake Lowell, but the number varies each day.
Mohler said eagles typically follow migration routes of geese and ducks, giving our white-headed friends plenty of reason to stop by and stay awhile.
Tens of thousands of ducks and geese use Lake Lowell, providing ample opportunity for eagles to feed upon the sick or injured waterfowl.
Usually, eagles move from the lake when it freezes over and ducks fly farther south.
For ease of spotting eagles, stop by the Deer Flat visitor center at 13751 Upper Embankment Road in Nampa. For directions, go to fws.gov/deerflat.
You also can get a map showing the largest concentration of ducks, and as a rule of thumb, if you find the ducks, the eagles wont be far away.
Be sure to bring binoculars and even a spotting scope if you have one. They are handy for viewing the majestic birds, or any wildlife for that matter. You also can look through spotting scopes at the visitor center.
Another eagle-watching spot is the Boise River. According to Idaho Fish and Game biologist Colleen Moulton, Barber Pool and Veterans Parkway both hold small concentrations of eagles. She also recommends going to the Idaho Birding Trail website, fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/ibt to see maps of specific spots for seeing birds in their natural habitat.
Remember that by the time you spot a bald eagle, it has probably already spotted you.
An eagle has at least four times better sight than you. They can look forward and sideways at the same time. Unlike many animals, eagles see in color.
In some ways, theyre also larger than you. Their wingspans range from 72 to 90 inches, with females being the larger of the species. They can lift up to four pounds, fly to almost 10,000 feet in elevation, and maintain speeds up to 35 mph.
Mark Krepps is a freelance writer, author and blogger. He is a father of three boys and has lived in Idaho for 16 years.