Why Bald Eagles Love Henderson, Kentucky

 

A pair of bald eagles at their nest in Henderson Sloughs

Henderson Sloughs by Stephen Chandler

How rare and majestic it is to see a bald eagle in the wild! Eagles are selective about where they build their nests and raise their young, as any protective parent should be! While they retreat to low-noise and low-traffic areas, it doesn’t mean they are impossible to find. Henderson, Kentucky is a unique hot-spot for eagle activity. How can you increase your odds of seeing one in-person? Keep reading!

Bald eagle hunting at the Henderson Sloughs

Henderson Sloughs by Gene Stinson

Henderson’s unique location on the mighty Ohio River are what make this town a great area for eagles to thrive. Geographically, Henderson’s horseshoe bend in the Ohio River provides more shoreline for eagles to hunt than most cities on the river. The width of the Ohio River in Henderson is about half a mile wide, the vastness of the river means eagles face less feeding competition and less interruptions from river traffic to hunt for food. With fish as the primary source of their diet, Henderson’s proximity to the river and the Henderson Sloughs keep the eagles coming back.

A bald eagle taking off in flight in the Henderson Sloughs

Henderson Sloughs by Chuck Summers

One popular observation spot that has a history of eagle activity is on Wolf Hills Road in Henderson. You can see the large nests high up in the trees, but be sure to bring your binoculars if you want a close look! The Audubon Wetlands Trail is on this road, too (get directions here)!

Bird observation platform in the Henderson Sloughs

Henderson Sloughs by Mark Herron

Birdwatcher’s may spot eagles soaring along the Ohio River, but if you desire to see more eagle activity, it is best to watch eagles interact at their nests. The Henderson Sloughs (Sloughs Wildlife Management Area) sees a lot of year-round eagle activity, if you know where to look! Eagles love being secluded in nature among the marshy wetlands in the Sloughs. They often nest in the bald cypress trees in these areas. Visitors can set up base at one of the wildlife viewing sites, like the observation deck pictured above, or explore the sloughs by kayak. See our Sloughs Map below to get ideas about which sites to visit!

Lily pads and cypress trees at the Henderson sloughs.

Henderson Sloughs by Gene Stinson

Eagles are most active during the morning time. They enjoy clear skies and soaring on windy days. While eagle activity is prevalent near their nesting areas, eagles can be seen on the Henderson riverfront near the historic downtown. During early morning hours (before the summer heat sets in) bald eagles have been spotted at the Red Banks Park in downtown Henderson. It doesn’t happen as often, but your chances of seeing an eagle increase the longer time you allot towards scouting them. One thing to keep in mind when on the lookout, bald eagles don’t get their white feathered plumage on their head until they reach maturity, which is about five years. Chance are you may have seen an eagle before and just never knew it!

Use this Google Map to help you explore the Sloughs!

Do you have a point of interest you would like to add to this map? Contact us to contribute your favorite Henderson Sloughs locations!

The bald eagle is protected by a number of state and federal laws, each with stiff penalties. For example, the Eagle Protection Act, which protects bald and golden eagles, combined with the Criminal Fines Improvement Act of 1987, can cause violators to spend two years in jail or be fined up to $10,000 on a misdemeanor charge. It is illegal to pursue, harm, harass, take or attempt to take, possess, sell, purchase or transport either eagles, eagle pans or their eggs without a permit. If you find a feather, look at it, take a picture, but do not pick it up. If you know of anyone committing such a violation, call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-522-8039, or contact the state game warden in your county.

 

Featured image by: Stephen Chandler