Bald Eagle Revival
The Bald Eagles appear to be alive and well. A far cry from their story only a few decades ago, when America’s symbolic bird was on the Endangered Species list.
I went to observe the eagles wintering along the Mississippi River. They tend to hang out around the locks and dams which have areas of open water, even during the winter’s coldest months. And open water, to an eagle, indicates the diner in open.
I spent parts of last Saturday and Sunday mornings at the Lock and Dam # 11 near Dubuque, Iowa. Saturday was overcast and cold (6˚F) but the eagles were quite active because it had warmed about 20˚ in the last two days. They thought it plenty warm enough to do a few aerial dives into the river and they were successful in their fishing attempts. I must have seen a dozen birds in the hour I was there.
On Sunday the clouds cleared for a few hours, and I was actually able to get a shot of this eagle with blue skies in the background. But the aerialists were gone, and I had to settle for seeing maybe three or four birds high in the trees along the bluffs.
I spoke to a member of the Army Corps of Engineers who oversees the dam, and also to a member of the local Audubon Society who keeps his eyes on the eagles. They both told me they’ve been doing eagle counts since the 1970s. Thirty years ago, in a counting trip from one dam to the next, in a span of perhaps 20 miles, they saw a total of one Bald Eagle. This year, same span, same time of year, and they reported seeing more than 200.
Yes, quite a comeback. It seems the Bald Eagles are doing quite well.