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Connecticut celebrates the eagle's annual feeding pilgrimage with activities, fairs and sightseeing tours

HARTFORD, CT, August 25, 2004 - Each year, 60 million Americans grab their binoculars and head outdoors to bird watch. According to the National Survey on Recreation and Environment, bird watching is the second fastest growing recreational activity and, this winter, Connecticut offers a rare opportunity for visitors to flock together off the slopes and celebrate the bird considered to be the living symbol of America - the bald eagle. Every winter, from early January to mid-March, bald eagles fly southward from Canada and northern New England to feed on fish found in the open waters of the lower Connecticut River. During this period, travelers can find numerous special events and activities to help view these magnificent birds up close. Connecticut eagle watching activities, celebrations and viewing opportunities include:

  • Connecticut River Eagle Festival. Feb. 19 - Feb. 20, 2005. Essex, CT.
    Presented by the Connecticut Audubon Society, this fun-filled event is "New England's Premier Eco-Event" and celebrates the return of the bald eagles to their wintering grounds on the Connecticut River as well as their remarkable comeback as an endangered species.

    Most festival activities and events are FREE to the public and will take place under two large, heated tents on Main Street and throughout the quintessential Americana town of Essex - rated the number one small town in America.* Various attractions include: Native American performances, live birds of prey presentations, bird carving exhibits, nature crafts for children, storytelling, lectures and book signings by noted environmentalists and authors, horse-drawn carriage rides, ice carving exhibits, art exhibits, an interactive weather station, and live musical entertainment.

    Although eagles can be seen from the shore, guided eagle-viewing boat tours offer unobstructed and closer views of the eagles. Boat tour tickets during the festival cost $15 for children under 12 and $30 for adults. Reservations must be made in advance. Also available throughout Connecticut's Eagle Watching season, this two-hour tour takes place on heated enclosed boats, and advance reservations are required. To request a regular boating schedule and to make reservations outside of the Eagle Watching Festival, call toll free 800-996-8747 or 860-767-0660.

    In addition, shuttle buses will be available to transport visitors to all venues from designated Festival parking lots. To request a complimentary Eagle Festival program guide, secure reservations for the eagle watching cruises, or to request additional information, call toll free 800-714-7201 or 860-767-9795. Travelers can also visit www.ctaudubon.org.
  • Shepaug Bald Eagle Observation Area. January - mid-March 2005. Southbury, CT.
    Located along Connecticut's Housatonic River, the Shepaug Bald Eagle Observation Area is another outstanding viewing site available in Connecticut throughout the winter. Now in its 20th season, this site provides bird watchers with a prime view of bald eagles hunting in the ice-free waters below the Shepaug Hydroelectric Station. The hydroelectric station's operation attracts eagles by preventing the water from freezing thus, making it easy to feed on fish below the dam. The observation area is open through mid-March on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Admission is free, but reservations are required by calling 800-368-8954.
  • The 17th Annual Eagle Watches on the Connecticut River January 15, 22, 29, & February 5, 12 & 19, Haddam, CT.
    Presented by the Madison Audubon Shop in Madison, CT, the 17th Annual Eagle Watches on the Connecticut River features a land-based guided tour of several sites along the Connecticut River. Starting at One Marine Park in Haddam, CT, eagle watchers have the opportunity to observe as bald eagles make their way from Canada down the River in search of ice-free fishing. The $20 fee includes the cost of a luncheon at Oliver's Tavern in Essex, CT. Binoculars are recommended and available for rental. For additional information and reservations, please call 203-245-9056. Space is limited.

For more information, please call 1-800-CT BOUND (1-800-282-6863) or log onto www.ctbound.org.
*100 Best Small Towns in America, by Norman Crampton (MacMillan)

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Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism
Ed Dombroskas
Tourism Division Director
Tel: (860) 270-8080
E-mail: edward.dombroskas@po.state.ct.us


The Ghosts of History

  1. Start this getaway in Hartford at the Old State House, 800 Main Street. It's the oldest state house in America, built in 1796, where you can see a reenactment of the first Amistad trial of the African captives who took over the ship they were on and sought justice in the courts.
  2. Then head east on I-84 to I-384 to Rt. 44 and Coventry. Take Rte. 31 to the 1776 Nathan Hale Homestead on South Street. It's filled with original furnishings and memorabilia of our famous hero.
  3. Stay overnight in a cozy B&B and after breakfast, head south to Willimantic and check out the Frog Bridge...

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