Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District
Eagles in Nebraska
Central's Eagle-viewing facilities closed for the season. Open again December 2014.
recent count of eagles at J-2: -- N/A
At Kingsley: -- N/A
bald eagle has always captured the attention of Americans, so much
so that in 1782 the Continental Congress chose the eagle as the
national bird and the centerpiece for the nation’s Great Seal.
Over the years, the bald eagle acquired its status as a symbol of
freedom and of the United States.
Eagle Viewing Facilities
wishing to visit either of the facilities are encouraged
to make arrangements by calling one of the following
phone numbers during normal business hours. The J-2 phone
number is also available when the facility is open. Don’t
forget your binoculars.
or smaller groups can also call ahead to make sure space is
available and to make sure eagles are at the sites. There
is no guarantee that eagles will be present at all times.
J-2 — Open
on Saturdays and Sundays from the end of December through the first weekend of March. Facility open from 8 a.m. to 2
p.m. Central Standard Time. Closed on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. Open to groups on
weekdays by appointment only.
Kingsley — Open on Saturdays & Sundays,
from Jan. 5 through early March, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mountain
Standard Time. Closed on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. Open to groups on weekdays by appointment only.
CNPPID Holdrege Office: (308) 995-8601
J-2 Viewing Facility: J-2 Powerhouse (308) 324-2811
Viewing Facility: Kingsley Dam (308) 284-2332
Interest in bald eagles has grown in recent years, partly because
of the birds’ plight. Their numbers drastically declined during
the late 1940s and 1950s when the use of pesticides such as DDT
and Dieldrin was common. The eagles ingested the pesticides by eating
contaminated fish and waterfowl. The pesticides interfered with
the eagles’ reproduction by causing the shells of the birds’
eggs to be abnormally thin and susceptible to breakage. High levels
of pesticides which concentrated in adult birds were also usually
wildlife experts agree that banning DDT was the single most
important factor in the birds’ recovery. From a low
point of less than 3,000 bald eagles in the lower 48 states,
present estimates show more than 9,000 nesting pairs. The
number of immature birds, not included in the estimate,
increases the population of bald eagles to an even greater
number. The ban on the general use of several pesticides — including
DDT in 1972 — new laws protecting
the eagles and efforts to reintroduce eagles into their former
range has helped the birds regain lost ground and increase
in number. In fact, the population increase was such that
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the bald eagle
from the endangered species list in 1995. In June 2007,
the bald eagle was removed from the list of threatened and
endangered species. The species continues
to increase in number and no longer is in peril
are many species of eagles throughout the world, but only two are
found in the United States — the bald eagle and the golden
eagle. Golden eagles are known to nest in many areas of western
Nebraska and may be seen throughout the year, while bald eagles
are more abundant in the state during the winter.
eagles require a relatively large amount of food. Therefore, areas
such as those below Central’s hydro plants are attractive
to eagles because of the abundant and readily available supply of
one of their favorite foods — fish. During the winter, when
ice forms on area lakes and rivers, bald eagles and many species
of waterfowl concentrate in areas where open water can be found.
Because of turbulence created by the action of the hydroplants,
the water immediately below the plants remains open and is a favorite
fishing spot for the eagles.
eagles can be scavengers, carrion-eaters, bandits, fishermen and
proficient predators. Circumstances and the availability of food
dictate how the bald eagle obtains food.
known for their opportunistic and bandit-like behavior, the bald
eagle is also an effective predator when circumstances require.
They are adept at capturing fish as small as shad or as large as
a six-pound carp. Instead of folding their wings and diving like
an osprey, they swoop in low and flat and dip their talons just
below the surface to grab a fish. Eagles that congregate near Central’s
hydroplants are likely to be capturing shad, alewife and other small
fish, although larger fish, such as catfish and carp, are occasionally
plucked from the water.
also prey upon small mammals — particularly rabbits —
and many species of birds, including ducks, geese and gulls. While
injured birds are more likely to fall prey to eagles, full-grown,
healthy waterfowl may become targets in the absence of more readily
available food. In instances where there is a plentiful supply of
fish (as is normally the case at J-2 and Kingsley Dam), the waterfowl
generally display little concern over the presence of the big birds
bald eagle pair nested and fledged two young along the Loup River,
the first documented case of a successful eagle nest in Nebraska
since the 19th century. Successful nests have been reported each
year since 1992 and, as numbers increase, it is hoped that such
occurrences will become more common in Nebraska and that the state
will have a permanent bald eagle population.
bald eagles seen in Nebraska during the winter have migrated from
the northern United States and Canada. Migrating bald eagles may
be seen in Nebraska as early as October and as late as May, but
the location and duration of stay is dependent upon the weather
and availability of food.
eagles do not display adult feathers until they are about five years
old. Dark eagles seen near the hydroplants are probably young or
immature bald eagles, although they may be golden eagles; the two
are not easily discernible by casual observers. In Nebraska, bald
eagles prefer to remain near water, especially if trees in which
they can perch are nearby. Golden eagles are likely to be found
in remote open areas where they hunt small animals and birds.
bald eagles are 35 to 40 inches long, weigh between eight and 14
pounds and have wingspans of six to eight feet. An adult golden
eagle is similar in weight, 30 to 41 inches long and has a wingspan
of about seven and a half feet. Typically, females of both species
are about a third larger than males, which is common among most
birds of prey.
Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District provides
facilities from which the public can watch eagles and other
wildlife, including a multipurpose and eagle-viewing facility
constructed in 1996 below the south end of Kingsley Dam.
The building is located on the shore of Lake Ogallala and
affords a wonderful vantage point from which to watch eagles
as they catch fish from the lake, sit on the ice and in nearby
trees and soar above the area.
the Johnson No. 2 Hydro (J-2), bleachers are situated in front of
large windows which look out over the Supply Canal where the eagles
swoop to capture fish and rest in the trees along the banks. Spotting
scopes are provided and attendants are available to answer questions.
J-2 is located about seven miles south of Lexington. Signs along
area roads help guide visitors to the plant. There is no charge
to visit the facilities.
both sites, it is important for visitors to remain in the facilities
while watching the eagles. The birds are easily disturbed and are
particularly cautious of humans. Trying to approach the birds or
loud noises could frighten the birds from the area.
Map to J-2 Eagle-Viewing Facility
to Kingsley Eagle-Viewing Facility
Map for Eagle-Viewing Facilities (PDF file)
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