The Merrimack River Eagle Festival

Presented by Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center & Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Merrimack River Eagle Festival logo

February 9–14, 2021

Thanks for a Great Event!

When winter returns to Merrimack Valley, so do the Bald Eagles. Every year we host a grand event marking their return, and we hope you'll join us in Newburyport and Amesbury to celebrate these very special winter residents. 

The 2021 Merrimack River Eagle Festival, which took place both virtually and in-person, was held from Tuesday, February 9 – Sunday, February 14, 2021. While the banks of the Merrimack River were not lined with large crowds of eagle spotters this season, we rejoiced in recognizing the wonders of the natural world and our local habitats that welcome winter's animal visitors!

Programs from this year's festival included:

  • Online lectures about Eastern Coyotes, saltmarsh owls, & Bald Eagle recovery in Massachusetts
  • In-person, eagle-themed nature walks for homeschoolers & families
  • Online workshops about identifying winter raptors & winter nature photography
  • Eagle-spotting field trips for adults & families
  • Live, online raptor demonstrations with Drumlin Farm & Horizon Wings

We look forward to returning in 2022 for the 17th Annual Merrimack River Eagle Festival!

2021 Festival Sponsors

Our endless gratitude goes out to the generous sponsors that made the 2021 Eagle Festival possible.

See Bald Eagles on Your Own

Bald Eagle adults on shoreline driftwood at Joppa Flats © Victor Cole
Bald Eagles at Joppa Flats © Victor Cole

We hope you were able to participate in the 2021 Merrimack River Eagle Festival! Even if you weren't, a robust population of Bald Eagles can still be found in the lower Merrimack River area throughout winter. 

With a little bit of guidance, you should be able to find them on your own! And we recommend bringing a child or two—or anyone with capacity for childlike wonder—with you to look for Bald Eagles and other fabulous birds while it's still cold. 

Sightings from the 2021 Festival

Following is a list of Bald Eagle sightings that our trip leaders recorded on Saturday, February 13. They are all from the Newburyport-Newbury-Amesbury-Salisbury area, and every site has available parking.

Time Location Eagle Sighting(s)
8:30 am Merrimack River west of Cashman Park
1 adult & 2 immatures 
9:22 am Black Rock Creek
Salisbury Beach Sate Reservation
2 individuals (eBird report)
9:30-11 am Cashman Park
4 immatures
10 am Parker River National Wildlife Refuge 1 adult
10 am Deer Island
10 individuals (eBird report)
10:15 am Salisbury Beach State Reservation 1 adult
11:23 am Salisbury Beach Sate Reservation 1 adult (eBird report)
12 pm Joppa Flats Education Center
7 individuals (eBird report)
12:30-2 pm Cashman Park
1 adult & 3 immatures
1:30 pm Joppa Flats Education Center
1 immature & 3 adults
2:30 pm Deer Island
4 immatures
5:15 pm Newburyport Waterworks 4 individuals (via eBird report)