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Eagle watching days abound in Wisconsin

Eagle-eyed birdwatchers flock to Wisconsin this winter to spot bald eagles in many spots.

Eagle-eyed birdwatchers flock to Wisconsin this winter to spot bald eagles in many spots.
US Army Photo / US Government – public domain

Ronald Reagan, 40th US President, may have declared June 20 as National Bald Eagle Day in 1982, but this mighty bird takes center stage in the Badger State in midwinter.

Once considered an endangered species by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), but now listed as a threatened species, the bald eagle (haliaeetus leucocephalus) has been spotted in great numbers across the Badger State, particularly as waters have frozen over on the Fox, Mississippi, and Wisconsin Rivers and the states lakes and ponds. .

"The amount of open water is limited because it's been so cold, so the eagles are really concentrated as they search for fish," said Carly Lapin, a conservation biologist with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), who monitors bald eagles. "It will be easier for people to see them and there should be some great viewing opportunities in many parts of Wisconsin."

In 2013, a Wisconsin Bald Eagle and Osprey Survey, counting the presence of America’s national symbol, found record numbers of breeding pairs and occupied nests. DNR specialists counted the highest Wisconsin populations of eagles in Oneida and Vilas Counties.

Several eagle-watching events are scheduled in Wisconsin in the coming weeks.

  • Saturday, January 11 – Bald Eagle Watching Bus Tour – Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin
  • Friday, January 17, to Saturday January 18 – Bald Eagle Watching Days – Sauk City, Wisconsin
  • Saturday, January 18 – Eagles on Ice Program – Alma, Wisconsin
  • Saturday, January 25, to Sunday, January 26 – Bald Eagle Days – Cassville, Wisconsin.
  • Sunday, February 23 – Bald Eagle Appreciation Days – Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin
  • Sunday, March 2 – Eagle Day – Ferryville, Wisconsin
  • and more.

DNR experts urge eagle watchers to avoid approaching or disturbing the birds.

The eagles are at a critical point in the winter, so it's best not to make them use their energy with unnecessary movements," Lapin explained. "Enjoy their majesty and aerial exploits, but always be aware of their well-being."

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