Winter Fun: Where Whales Swim and Where Eagles Soar

bald eagle watching quincy illinois
courtesy Tim Spenser

Winter is usually not thought of as a great time to observe wildlife except when holding a cup of hot chocolate in front of your living room window.

But, Southern Airways and Mokulele Airlines have some great spots to see some of nature’s most majestic creatures during the winter:


Now through April is a great time to visit Hawai’i and see the kohola or kuapio kohola. Humpback whales are on average 45 ft, but lengths up to 60 ft are possible. Of the 80,000 plus worldwide about 1/4 of the population visit Hawai’i each year. Only male humpback whales sing, and their songs are part of their competition for potential mate.

  • Early in the morning is the best time to see whales. The number of whale sightings on the Big Island at 8:00 am is ~50% higher than the amount spotted just a few hours later at noon according to Hawaiian volunteers who have been counting whales since 1996.

Los Angeles

From Marina del Rey and Long Beach to Newport Beach and Dana Point, there are plenty of harbors both in Los Angeles and neighboring counties that act as a jumping-off point for whale-watching adventures. Wintertime brings plenty of gray whale sightings. It’s also a great time to see. Also, it’s a great time to observe dolphins and sea lions!

Quincy, Illinois

Bald Eagles have been wintering in Quincy at Lock & Dam 21 since it began in 1938. The lock & dam is listed on the National Register of Historic Places covering 1,075 acres.

Make plans January 27-28, 2024 to visit Lock and Dam 21 for Quincy’s Eagle Days. Rangers will be on hand with spotting scopes to showcase the magnificent birds that winter in the Quincy area. Visitors are encourage to stop by the Standing Bear Winter Gathering from 9 am – 5 pm each day at the Oakley Lindsay Center for a Native American perspective of bald eagles.

Looking for more spots? Check out these 10 spots from