Winter 2002

Litchfield, CT -- Contact: Janet L. Serra For Immediate Release So you think it's cold outside? Some visitors to our area don't agree. The great American bald eagles that live in the farther, more frigid North fly down for our winter warmth every year. They come searching for rivers that do not freeze, where they can dive for a tasty fish dinner. One of their favorite spots is the Shepaug Dam on the Housatonic River, near Southbury in Connecticut's Litchfield Hills, where running water from the dam prevents icing and assures a ready feast of fish. Their annual arrival offers the opportunity for some excellent wildlife watching not far from home. This will be the 17th year for the organized eagle watch near the Shepaug Housatonic Hydroelectric Station. An Eagle Observation Area has been constructed 1000 feet from the river, affording privacy for the eagles while allowing visitors to enjoy watching the graceful swoops and glides of these spectacular seasonal guests. Hours are limited in an additional effort to protect the birds. The viewing area is open through March 20 on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the hours when eagles are most likely to feed. Naturalists are on hand to answer questions about the birds. Sponsored by Northeast Utilities, which operates the dam, the programs are free, but because of limited space, viewing is by reservation only. For additional information and to reserve a spot call (800) 368-8954 Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Watching these fleet fishermen in action is a thrill. Eagles can fly between 36 and 44 miles per hour, and have been clocked at 100 miles an hour when diving. A mature eagle can have a wingspan in excess of seven feet. Their size means they are easily observed as they soar overhead to spot their prey and dive for their dinner, an easy task for these sharp-eyed birds whose eyesight is many times stronger than humans. Incidentally, our National Birds are not bald. The name came from an old Middle English word, "balled," meaning "shining white," referring to the white feathers that cover their heads, another mark that makes an eagle easy to identify. The pleasures of winter in the Litchfield Hills are not limited to eagle watching. For information about skiing, sleigh-rides, antiquing, and a free copy of UNWIND, a 40-page color guide to cozy lodging, dining and all the attractions in the area, write to the Litchfield Hills Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, call (860) 567-4506 or visit their web site at