Conowingo Dam – Eagle Viewing Tips
I thought this list of 5 Key Tips would be helpful for first-time eagle viewers who are visiting Conowingo Dam.
- Arrive Early
- If you plan on being at Conowingo Dam in the morning, you should also plan on waking up super early. The main parking lot tends to fill up quickly during peak seasons, especially on weekends. Arriving before sunrise will help to ensure you get a spot, and will give you time to pick out a spot to set up your gear if you have any (folding chair, tri-pod, etc.). As a bonus, the sun rising on the river is a beautiful sight. 😊
- Protect Your Car From Vultures
- You’ve arrived early and gotten a parking spot – awesome ! Be advised that there is a resident group of black vultures who are smart enough to know that there is usually a steady stream of fish guts being dropped from trees once the eagles make a catch. Although the vulture activity seems to be less as you get closer to the dam-end of the lot, the further end sees more congregating…. And they can be destructive. They are apparently drawn to the rubber of the windshield wipers. So, I would suggest bringing something that you could cover your windshield and wipers with – like the tarps used on windshields to protect from snow/ice. I’ve also heard of their talons scratching up car paint when they land on them. So maybe don’t bring the Corvette…. You’ve been warned.
- Dress Warmly
- One of the peak times for eagle activity tends to be in the colder months of November into December. Dress warmly, as it always feels colder to me when you’re lined up along the river’s edge, especially if there’s any wind blowing or you’re there before sunrise. I suggest: warm socks, warm shoes or boots, possible long-john’s underneath pants, warm top under a good jacket, hat/ear muffs, and good gloves. You can always go to your car to warm up, but you know as well as I do….. that that’s exactly when a National Geographic sequence will unfold that you’ll miss. Hahaha
- If you’re a photographer who hasn’t shot in cold weather before, definitely do some research ahead of time to find warm gloves that will also let you maintain the controls of your camera. The pair I use have fingertips that flip back off of the thumb and pointer fingers so that I can utilize my dials and controls more easily. A good pair of handwarmers doesn’t hurt either. I prefer the rechargeable kind, but people always have the old-school single use type as well.
- Bring snacks and food
- A day at the dam can be a long one, especially if you’ve travelled a decent distance to get there. I know that I always find myself about to leave and saying “After the next set of action, THEN I’ll go….. “ But then there’s always 1 or 2 eagles who look like they’re ready to do something exciting, so you keep staying “just in case” …. And then it’s 2 more hours later. Lol So bring a lunch bag or cooler with some snacks, a sandwich, and some drinks. Be sure to properly dispose of any trash please.
- Be Patient
- A lot of factors can affect how many eagles are present and how much they fish on any given day. Wind, Sun/Clouds, Temperature, Time of Day, and Number of Dam Spillways open can all impact what you might see. Sometimes there will be a lot of activity, but on the far side of the river where it’s more challenging to see and photograph. Come prepared to be patient, appreciate the eagles and activity you DO see, and enjoy the comradery of the other visitors who are there with you.
And YES – there are Port-O-Potties there to use for those staying awhile. They have always been clean and well-maintained in my experience.