This past Sunday afternoon, we went down to Lock and Dam No. 11 in Dubuque, Iowa, to view eagles. We have done this other years as well with varying results as far as numbers of eagles seen. Eagles can be found in our part of Wisconsin in the winter anywhere there is open water after the rivers and lakes have frozen over.
The colder the weather, the more water is covered with ice. The more ice, the more eagles congregate near the open water below locks and dams.
A couple of years ago during a spell of -0 F weather, the Mississippi River was frozen near Dubuque from shore to shore with no opening in the ice except around Lock and Dam No 11. (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/1407082356000603324vOdqLE ) That year we counted over 60 eagles on the ice, fishing in cracks, dipping into the water below the sluice gates of the dam, and perched in trees on the near and far shore of the river. http://www.jeffraflik.com/wintereagles05-06.htm
Other years, we have viewed the birds during Eagle Days in Sauk Prairie, Wisconsin, below the hydroelectric dam on the Wisconsin River. The city has created riverside viewing areas, and there are always educational displays, lectures, and raptor demonstrations by wildlife rehabilitators at one of the local schools. http://www.ferrybluffeaglecouncil.org/eagledays/index.html
This year we saw two birds along the divided highway on the way down to Dubuque, three near the lock and dam, and one on the way home! The reason for why there were so few birds around the locks became obvious as we walked along the top of the bluff overlooking the lock and dam and the river in Eagle Point Park. (We could see pockets of open water several miles upriver. (The river is about a mile wide behind the lock and dam at this point. Pickup trucks pulling ice fishing shanties onto the river ice looked like matchbox cars. This summertime picture should give you an idea of how wide the river is at this point. http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/1409402321000603324OEaiqJ
If you are interested in viewing eagles in your state, check out this website: http://www.baldeagleinfo.com/eagle/eagle1.html it has a lot of great information for a great family outing! Dress warm and bring along some hot cocoa, binoculars, and your camera. Have fun! Begonia
P.S. In researching images for this blog entry, I came across this incredibly neat wildlife photo site. Enjoy!