The Logan Landfill has turned into a great spot to do a little bird watching. Employees say they see about 50-60 eagles a day out there scavenging for food.
In fact, the lookout point at the landfill has a new name.
“I call it the eagle's nest; it’s a good place to see the whole landfill and the birds like to sit up here and watch over things,” said Jim Simon, the solid waste director for Gallatin County.
He says they’ve been seeing bald eagles out at the landfill for about six years.
“Every year more and more show up,” said Simon.
But he says their appearance is short-lived.
“They show up around the beginning of December and usually leave by March,” said Simon.
Morgan Jacobsen, the information officer for Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, says this is because of seasonal migration.
“We see more eagles as well as other raptors, and waterfowl this time of year,” said Jacobsen.
He says it’s not uncommon to see bald eagles looking for a quick meal at a landfill because they’re scavengers.
“They’re opportunistic so any time there’s an easy meal they don’t have to capture and kill themselves, they’ll take it,” said Jacobsen.
The director of the Montana Raptor Conservation Center, Jordan Spyke, says there are some dangers around bald eagles scavenging the landfill.
"Bald eagles could run into trouble if they eat something that’s not good for them, like a euthanized carcass or something,” said Spyke.
In fact, Spyke says they’ve had to treat quite a few raptors in poor health at the conservation center after feeding off a euthanized carcass.
But none of those raptors came from the Logan Landfill.
Simon says this is because of the precautions they take to keep wildlife safe.
“We direct bury roadkill and cover them as soon as they come in,” said Simon. “Especially the euthanized animals from vet clinics and places like that to prevent disease.”
So, what are the bald eagles eating then?
“Food scraps and food waste,” said Simon.
Simon says in the six years the eagles have been here, they’ve yet to find one that is diseased or injured at the landfill.
“They seem to thrive in the environment,” said Simon. Each year it seems like there’s a few more every time they come back.”
And Jacobsen with the FWP agrees.
“Eagle populations are doing really well right now,” said Jacobsen.