Bald eagles viewing events to be held in January
MADISON – The recent cold snap has begun to freeze up larger portions of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers, which should result in higher concentrations of bald eagles in areas of open water, and should make for good eagle viewing during upcoming bald eagle watching events.
Sauk City and Prairie du Sac on the Wisconsin River will hold the 23nd annual Bald Eagle Watching Days on Jan. 15-16. Along the Mississippi River, Cassville will hold its 17th annual Bald Eagle Days on Jan. 30-31.
Each winter, hundreds of bald eagles congregate along areas of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers where they feed on fish in the open water below dams. Wildlife officials say this is the largest concentration of wintering bald eagles in the lower 48 states, offering some of the best eagle viewing in the nation.
Randy Jurewicz, an endangered resources biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said volunteer spotters from the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council but counted 98 eagles on January 3, 2010 up from the 49 birds near the dam at Prairie du Chien in mid December.
Temperatures were much milder then and there were larger sections of open water along the lower Wisconsin River, so eagles were likely more dispersed. Now that temperatures have fallen, much more of the river is frozen, so eagles should be more concentrated along the open water sections,” Jurewicz said.
He notes, however, it is possible that the extensive snow cover following the early December snowstorm drove birds farther south to the Mississippi River. Eagle numbers along the Mississippi River were typical of an early cold and snowy December.
Wisconsin currently has approximately 1,145 territorial pairs of eagles, according to surveys conducted by DNR wildlife biologists.
In 1971 Wisconsin banned the use of DDT after scientists determined eagle numbers were dropping as the birds, impacted by DDT, failed to reproduce because their eggshells were weak. The bald eagle was listed as both a state and federally endangered species.
A major milestone was reached in August 2007 when the bald eagles were removed from the Federal Endangered Species Act’s endangered and threatened species list. Wisconsin’s large and successful population played a significant role in the federal delisting.
The Endangered Resources tax check-off option found on Wisconsin state tax returns gives taxpayers the option of donating a portion of any tax refund toward the protection and management of endangered resources in Wisconsin.
Many of the best eagle-viewing destinations are featured in the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail guides available from the Department of Natural Resources.
Bald Eagle Watching Days at Sauk City-Prairie du Sac
The 23rd Bald Eagle Watching Days will be held Friday evening and Saturday, Jan. 15 and 16. Wildlife humorist David Stokes kicks off the celebration at 7 p.m. on Friday with fun for the entire family at the Sauk Prairie High School River Arts Center.
Saturday’s events include guided eagle watching tours; an Eagles in Wisconsin program with Pat Manthey, of the DNR Bureau of Endangered Resources, and members of the the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council; a Birds of Prey Show, with live raptors presented by The Raptor Center from the University of Minnesota. A complete schedule of activities can be found on the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council Web site. Information is also available by calling 1-800-683-2453.
Open water below the dam on the Wisconsin River at Sauk City and Prairie du Sac is a customary winter gathering place for Bald Eagles. The Ferry Bluff Eagle Council maintains an overlook for viewing eagles, preserves habitat for eagles, conducts eagle programs, educates people on how to watch eagles yet maintain the bird’s safety, creates educational material for schools and works with landowners to manage habitat. Council members also monitor nighttime eagle roosts during the winter.
Cassville Bald Eagle Days
The 17th Annual Bald Eagle Days Celebration will be held Jan. 30 and 31 in Cassville on the Mississippi River in Grant County. Every year hundreds of eagles spend the winter in the Cassville area where the birds can be seen along the village’s waterfront.
Each day, from 8 a.m. to noon, knowledgeable volunteers from the Cassville area will assist birders in locating eagles at the Wildlife Observation Deck at Cassville’s Riverside Park. Education programs will be held Saturday, January 31 beginning at 9 a.m. at the Cassville High School, 715 E Amelia St.
More information is available at Cassville’s Bald Eagle Days.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: on bald eagles in Wisconsin contact
- Randy Jurewicz – (608) 267-7507
- Sauk-Prairie Eagle Watching Days – 1-800-683-2453
- Cassville Bald Eagle Days – (608) 725-5855