Bald eagles are star attraction at Conowingo Dam
From November to February the Conowingo Dam attracts over a hundred species of birds, but the bald eagles are the star of the show. What draws them to the giant hydroelectric dam, which located on the Susquehanna River, is the way it makes energy. As the dam produces electricity, a large volume of water and fish are sucked through the generators stunning the fish into “floaters” as they exit the dam downstream. The easy prey becomes an excellent food source for bald eagles and other birds.
The Conowingo Dam, built in 1928, was named after the town Conowingo, whose original area is now under the reservoir water. The town was moved during the dam’s construction. The dam has 53 flood control gates that maintain the reservoir level and the water flow needed for the downstream ecology, which includes the many birds flocking to the concrete structure.
The area below the dam is excellent for bird watching. Laden with long lenses and tripods, photographers setup in various areas to capture pictures of the birds, but the most popular spot is Conowingo’s Fisherman’s Park. A wharf that was constructed in 2010 gives bird watchers and photographers a front row seat to the action.
The bald eagle was taken off the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants list by the U.S. Department of Interior on June 28, 2007. The bald eagle’s return is a great conservation success story. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife listed the number of nest pairs at 417 in 1963. The last census numbers, which were for 2006, estimated that there were more than 9,700 nesting pairs of bald eagles throughout North America.