Want to see a bald eagle? Here’s where to find them in Dayton

Orv and Willa, Carillon Historical Park's bald eagles, have been spending more time closer to home in their nest because they are on the cusp of nesting . PHOTO COURTESY OF JIM WELLER
Orv and Willa, Carillon Historical Park's bald eagles, have been spending more time closer to home in their nest because they are on the cusp of nesting . PHOTO COURTESY OF JIM WELLER

Winter in Dayton is the perfect time to catch a glimpse of a bald eagle.

Trees without leaves, combined with multiple rivers flowing through the city, create a timely opportunity to watch these amazing birds.

There’s a lot of eagle activity at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark now, according to Jim Weller, founder of the Eastwood Eagle Watchers.

“Those broken-off branches from when the tornadoes came through a couple years ago provide a lot of wonderful perches where the eagles like to sit,” Weller said.

A nomadic four-year-old bald eagle perches in the trees at Wegerzen Gardens MetroPark. The broken tree branches and open spaces between the Stillwater River and Jay Lake within the park are attractive to eagles who navigate in with six to seven-foot wide wing spans. JIM WELLER / CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
A nomadic four-year-old bald eagle perches in the trees at Wegerzen Gardens MetroPark. The broken tree branches and open spaces between the Stillwater River and Jay Lake within the park are attractive to eagles who navigate in with six to seven-foot wide wing spans. JIM WELLER / CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Nomadic eagles as well as Orv and Willa, Carillon Historical Park’s resident bald eagles, can sometimes be seen there overlooking the Stillwater River.

Keep an eye out along the river corridor through downtown. Eagles have been known to swoop past the windshields of automobiles on the Stewart and Washington Street bridges.

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They have also been spotted in the trees along the river near Temple Israel, 130 Riverside Drive, and further north toward Island MetroPark.

“That’s a great place, especially in the wintertime,” Weller said. “The Stillwater River dumps in by Helena Street and the Mad River dumps in just south of there so that keeps the water opened up from ice, and consequently, the eagles like to fish in the open water there.”

An eagle fishes in the Great Miami River. The rivers that flow through Dayton are a draw for the amazing birds. This image, captured in 2018,  was taken from the Monument Avenue Bridge in Dayton.   PHOTO COURTESY OF JIM WELLER
An eagle fishes in the Great Miami River. The rivers that flow through Dayton are a draw for the amazing birds. This image, captured in 2018, was taken from the Monument Avenue Bridge in Dayton. PHOTO COURTESY OF JIM WELLER

Credit: Jim Weller

Credit: Jim Weller

But the best place to watch bald eagles is at Carillon Historical Park, 1000 Carillon Blvd., where Orv and Willa have nested since 2018. There is an admission fee to enter the park.

Almost daily, photographers set up along Patterson Blvd. near the park to photograph the pair as they fly from their nest to the Great Miami River for food.

Be prepared to get up early. Eagles are most active during the hour before and after sunrise.

“The best time is always early in the morning when the eagles wake up and head out to find breakfast,” Weller said.

Orv and Willa, the Carillon Historical Park resident eagles,  are pair-bonded mates for life. Eagles can breed until they are 25-years old with an average of two offspring a year.  PHOTO COURTESY OF JIM WELLER
Orv and Willa, the Carillon Historical Park resident eagles, are pair-bonded mates for life. Eagles can breed until they are 25-years old with an average of two offspring a year. PHOTO COURTESY OF JIM WELLER

Orv and Willa have been sticking closer to home lately because they are on the cusp of nesting, Weller said. Egg-laying typically happens within a week of Valentine’s Day in this part of country.

This will be the fourth year the lifelong mates, who are 8-years-old, have nested in a sycamore tree above Wright Hall inside the park.

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Bald eagles have made a dramatic comeback in Ohio. Last year, a nest census indicated the state had 712 active eagle nests, a 153% increase from the previous census completed in 2012, when 281 nests were recorded, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Eagles can breed until they are 25-years old with an average of two offspring a year, Weller said.

“There is a possibility for an exponential explosion of numbers,” he said.

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