St. Joseph Catholic Academy embarks on field trip to Eagle Observation Area

SOUTHBURY—SJCA students in grades K-8 enjoyed a beautiful and chilly day observing Bald Eagles at the Shepaug Dam Eagle Observation Area in Southbury. Students were able to view both adult and juvenile eagles. They witnessed eagles skimming the water and actually standing in the shallow water near the far bank. Two adult bald eagles, easily distinguished from juveniles by their snow-white heads and tails, could be seen perched next to one another on the same branch in a nearby tree. Several of the facility staff speculated that they were a mated pair that successfully raised three chicks last winter and spring on the Housatonic River. Students were able to use excellent binoculars and telescopes provided by First Light to enhance their viewing experience.      

There were about five adults and at least three juveniles in the area during our visit. Students were able to see the juveniles soaring and perched and were amazed to see how well the youngsters blend into their environment due to their excellent camouflage of brown-black feathers, minus the white head and tail. One highlight was watching three juveniles soaring high above our heads as they enjoyed full bellies after their morning feast of fish.

Students were surprised by a presentation from a naturalist from the Audubon Society. She introduced the SJCA students to a rescued screech owl, red-shouldered hawk and a barn owl named Millie. Students were in awe as they learned about raptor flight, diet, senses, body description, range, nesting, raising, fledging and how the birds came to be in their care.  The children were very engaged as the birds were only a foot or two from them.

Students were able to listen to and compare recorded calls of the bald eagle with that of the red-tailed hawk. Participants learned that the eagle call is frequently replaced by the hawk call in movies and television shows because some think the eagle call is “wimpy” compared to the intimidating screech of the hawk. Students were free to read interpretive signs inside the blind and explore the area outside.

(To learn more about our STEM programs at St. Joseph Catholic Academy, contact Admissions Coordinator, Lisa Sweeting, at:, 203.775.2774 or schedule a private tour online at