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Central’s eagle-viewing starts at J-2, Ogallala

The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District will once again provide eagle-watching opportunities to the public this winter.

The schedule has been altered from years past because Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Sundays when the facilities will not be open.

To accommodate the public, Central’s eagle-viewing facilities at the Johnson No. 2 (J-2) hydroelectric plant near Lexington will be open on Friday, Dec. 23, and Saturday, Dec. 24, and then on Friday, Dec. 30, and Saturday, Dec. 31. Thereafter, the viewing center will be open on Saturdays and Sundays for the remainder of the season, which typically ends in late February.

The J-2 facility is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. The hydroplant is located south of Lexington near the intersection of county roads 749 and 750.

Central’s eagle-viewing facility below Kingsley Dam will open for the season on Saturday, Jan. 7, with a special event. Blake Hatfield, a volunteer with Raptor Recovery Nebraska, will be on hand with a few of the recovery center’s “education birds” to speak with the public about Nebraska’s raptor population.

Raptors are birds of prey, including hawks, eagles, owls, and falcons. More importantly, they are a vital link in the food chain. Hatfield’s presentation will begin at 10 a.m. MT on Jan. 7 and is free to the public. Free-will donations will be accepted to assist Raptor Recovery with their mission.

Injured and orphaned raptors receive medical treatment and care at the recovery center in Lincoln. After being restored to health, they are banded and released. Some birds have been so severely injured that they cannot be fully rehabilitated. These are channeled into breeding programs, recruited as “foster parents” for young birds, utilized in research and featured in the center’s educational programs.

The Kingsley Dam facility is open for eagle-viewing from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. MT on Saturdays and Sundays through late February.

A limited number of binoculars are available at the facilities, but visitors are encouraged to bring their own viewing equipment.

Central has been providing eagle-viewing opportunities at J-2 since 1988 and at Kingsley Dam since 1990. The eagles are attracted to feed on fish in the open water below the plants, particularly when rivers and lakes in the area are covered with ice.

Several factors influence the number of eagles seen from the facilities on any given day, including climatic conditions, ice coverage on area bodies of water, how many eagles are wintering in the area, and whether the hydroplants are on-line. The best viewing time is normally earlier in the day. There is no charge to visit the facilities.

For more information about eagles and viewing opportunities, visit Central’s web page at www.cnppid.com or call 308-995-8601.

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