Wings will be spread and thousands of curious eyes will be wide open during the 2020 Merrimack River Eagle Festival held Saturday, February, 15 from 9 am – 4 pm, in Newburyport and Amesbury. The annual Eagle Festival, which welcomes back bald eagles to the region, is co-sponsored by the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge and Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center and features many great events. Image taken by Jim and titled (Mr. LifeLoomsLarge).
For those hoping to spot a bald eagle, there will be multiple opportunities throughout the day. Print out a map, they will be available online and at sponsored locations the day of the event, and drive yourself to Eagle Hot Spots in the area. Naturalist Guides will be stationed at the designated places on the map from 9 am to 4 pm to answer questions and help spot the eagles.
If you would prefer a more guided experience, tours will leave from the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and Industry located at 38R Merrimac St., Newburyport. Tours will depart every half hour from 9 am to 2:30 pm. Registration is required to participate in these tours and there is a small fee. Those interested in taking a tour can register online beginning January 6th.
While the highlight of the Merrimack River Eagle Festival is obviously spotting the bald eagles, there will be many other events and activities also available throughout the day.
Stop by Newburyport City Hall from 10 am to 11 am and see a live raptor show. Mary-Beth Kaeser of Horizon Wings will put on two free educational programs featuring raptors great and small. And be sure to stick around after for a chance to have your photo taken with a raptor for a small donation.
Over at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge there will be family fun from 10 am to 3 pm. Visitors can enjoy kids activities, arts and crafts (including fish printing, drawing bird pictures, creating pine cone feeders), and even meet live Owls from Drumlin Farm. All activities are first come, first serve and free. Seal watchers will also be positioned at the north end of Plum Island and bird observers at the refuge near North Poll Overlook.
At Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center, from 11 am to 3 pm, visitors will be able to learn about bald eagles, snowy owls, and other raptors indigenous to the area. There will be hands-on activities for kids and live hawks to meet, courtesy of Drumlin Farm.
For a complete guide to the Eagle Festival Events and Activities happening at Joppa Flats and the Parker River Visitor Center visit the Newburyport.com Events Calendar.
The Merrimack River Eagle Festival is a favorite of both locals and tourists. For those visiting the area for the event, Newburyport is also a destination filled with amazing restaurants, one of a kind shops, and unique experiences. Make a weekend of your visit, there are wonderful places to stay, and continue to explore the area. If you are going to eat, shop, and play in town, consider purchasing a VIP Card to receive local discounts.