Quiet Waters tour gives clear look at bald eagles.
By Nick Sortal, SouthFlorida.com
4:09 PM EST, December 23, 2014
The bald eagles have returned to Deerfield Beach, and a tour on Saturday makes it easier to get a good look at them.
Two bald eagles first appeared at Quiet Waters Park last year, and park staff was concerned too much disturbance would scare them off. But they migrated back this fall, and are settled to the point that a controlled viewing is possible.
"That way we know they're safe," said Katherine Hendrickson, the park's naturalist. "We know they're popular but we want them to keep coming back."
The park bought several high-resolution binoculars and a telescope for visitors, who walk about a mile on a dirt path with a naturalist.
"You're across the lake from them but with the telescope and the binoculars, it's easy to see them with a nice clear view and they're not bothered," she said. Last year, park staffers roped off the area 330 feet away from the nest on one side and 450 feet on the other and police shooed away drivers who stopped along Florida's Turnpike to get a view of the birds from the west.
The eagles have at least one egg in a nest, she said.
"We've seem them flying in with larger sticks," she said. "They're in a cypress tree, with not much room to grow, but the nest is bigger than last year."
The eagles settled at Quiet Waters Park because of the open land, which makes hunting prey easier, Hendrickson said. Hurricane Wilma flattened many of the trees back in 2005. The only other bald eagles in Broward County are in Pembroke Pines. Palm Beach County has about a dozen.
Although the bald eagle has been removed from the endangered species list, it retains strong state and federal legal protections. Under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, anyone who harasses or harms a bald eagle could face a fine of up to $5,000 and up to one year in prison for a misdemeanor, and up to $250,000 and two years in prison for a felony.
Americans naturally have an interest in bald eagles, Hendrickson said.
"I think it's just that symbol of what the country has gone through and they're just so powerful," she said. "Just to see them perched up there is quite majestic.
"They're not just another bird. We grew up with them, they're on top of the flag and it's ingrained in us."
The tours are at 8 a.m. Saturday Dec. 27, and Jan. 3, 17, 31. The next one will be in March. Tours can accommodate up to 15 at a time at Quiet Waters Park, 401 S. Powerline Road, Deerfield Beach. Cost is $3. Bird-watching tours are also offered at Tall Cypress Natural Area, 3700 Turtle Run Blvd., Coral Springs and Deerfield Island Park, 1720 Deerfield Island Park, Deerfield Beach. Patrons can sign up by Webtrac.broward.org; Nest Tours and search for "bald eagle." Call 954-357-5100.