CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. - Croton Point Park's most popular winter event lands in less than one week -- Teatown's Eaglefest comes to Croton Saturday.
The celebration of the Bald Eagle, and birding more generally, is designed by wildlife education group Teatown Lake Reservation as a "educational, low-cost family-friendly outing," according to organizers.
In 2012, a high of about 5,000 people attended the event, a surge Teatown spokeswoman Mary Haley attributed to the especially "fair" weather last winter.
The event is organized around the annual over-wintering of bald eagles in the Hudson Valley. Each year, Bald Eagles migrate from northern New York and Canada to spend time in the lower Hudson Valley where the unfrozen Hudson River offers prey such as waterfowl and fish. Until 2007, the eagle was a federally endangered species.
Eaglefest is far and away the most popular event in Croton Point Park in the winter. The park is the center of activity in a string of parks that participate in "eagle viewing stations." There will be continuous shows all day at Croton Point Park and are given by a variety of experts on topics from Bald Eagles to owls to choosing optics.
Eagle viewing stations along the Hudson River include Steamboat Dock Park in Verplanck, Riverfront Green Park in Peekskill, Kathryn W. Davis RiverWalk Center in Sleepy Hollow and the Boscobel House and Gardens in Garrison. Each will be staffed with a birding expert.
Admission costs apply only to Eagle Theater shows for children, at $5 a for children older than 3 years old, and bus tours which ship "birders" to three different viewing sites. Bus tour tickets are $25 per person. Teatown Reservation organizers keep costs down through volunteers' efforts and through sponsorships.
Haley said the interest in birding stems from the, "open space here, and they can go out and enjoy it without having to go far, which is what's unique about the county."
The 2013 Hudson River Eaglefest is sponsored by at least four large commercial enterprises, including WHUD, First Niagara Foundation, Club Fit and LaFarge North America. Westchester County donates use of the park, and several nonprofits, including the Sawmill River Audubon and Bedford Audubon, also support the event.