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Originally published Wednesday, January 1, 2014 at 7:10 PM

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The eagles have landed along the Skagit River

Skagit Eagle Festival, Saturdays and Sundays through January

Seattle Times staff

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Follow the winter migration of bald eagles and head up the North Cascades Highway for the Skagit Eagle Festival opening Saturday and continuing weekends through Jan. 26. Eagles from as far away as Alaska migrate to the upper Skagit River in winter to feast on abundant spawning salmon, providing a unique opportunity to observe and photograph them in groups in one of our state’s most beautiful natural settings. This winter’s mild weather provides easy access to the Concrete-Rockport-Marblemount area along Highway 20 about 100 miles north and east of Seattle.

Unless you’re an experienced eagle watcher, they can be difficult to spot. Expert help, spotting scopes and binoculars are available at U.S. Forest Service viewing stations at Howard Miller Steelhead Park, Sutter Creek Rest Area and Marblemount Fish Hatchery. The Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center at Howard Miller Steelhead Park has displays, information and guided walks to help visitors see and learn about bald eagles and other local wildlife.

Visitors are reminded to not disturb the eagles by approaching them closely; a telephoto lens is the best way to get photos. Peak feeding times are usually from dawn to 11 a.m. near the river’s edge. Groups of eagles can sometimes be spotted in trees near the river.

The Concrete Chamber of Commerce hosts Skagit Eagle Festival events around the area and provides information on local river tour companies, lodging and other local resources Saturdays and Sundays through January. Festival events Saturday include “Raptors, Crafts, Food & Fun,” with live birds of prey presentations, arts and crafts vendors, entertainment, breakfast and salmon lunch at Concrete High School.

Upcoming events include Native American History, Storytelling and Music Jan. 11 and 12 and photography workshops Jan. 11 and 18. Continuing events include Deep Forest and Eagle Habitat Experience in Rockport State Park old-growth forest Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and tours of Marblemount Fish Hatchery Saturdays and Sundays through January.

Madeline McKenzie:

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