GRDA’s Eagle Pass

Power for Progress… a weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority.

Eyes on the prize… A bald eagle keeps a watchful eye on the water near GRDA’s Pensacola Dam. However, it’s also a great time of the year for visitors to put their eyes back on to the eagles.

All year long, the Grand River Dam Authority’s lakes region is a great place to see all sorts of wildlife and waterfowl. However, this is a yearly reminder that right now is an especially good time to see American Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles below Pensacola Dam, at an area GRDA has designated as “Eagle Pass.” 

From mid-December through March, this area below the dam is a haven for the eagles as they hunt for small fish, often snatching them off the surface of the water, or even stealing them from other birds. The best time to watch the birds in action is early in the morning.

To access Eagle Pass, follow Broadway Avenue south out of Langley, Oklahoma to N4475 Rd (the road that runs below Pensacola Dam). Go east on N4475 until you cross the bridge, then turn right (south) onto the dirt road and follow it around to the eagle viewing areas.

The location is a quiet spot for viewing the majestic American Bald Eagle (Hailaeetus leucocephalus) in the area; the only eagle unique to North America.

The American Bald Eagle’s range extends across most of the continent from Northern Canada and Alaska all the way down to northern Mexico.

The eagles, both males and females, are recognizable by their blackish-brown backs and breasts with yellow feet and bills. They also have white heads, necks and tails.

The Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), has a much broader range, and can be found not only in North America (and below Pensacola Dam) but also in Europe, North Africa and Asia.

These birds are dark brown and the plumage on their heads and necks is a lighter golden-brown. Typically their feathers go all the way to their toes, while the American Bald Eagle has more leg showing.

GRDA’s Eagle Pass area is just one of many locations where eagle watching is a popular winter past-time.

The birds can also be found below GRDA’s Robert S. Kerr Dam as well as at many other dams and lakes across the state.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees and efficiency.