Close your eyes and picture 25 Bald Eagles flying and hunting around you and three feet of snow blanketing the landscape. What are you picturing? Many would probably answer they’re picturing some vast Alaskan landscape surrounded by Bald Eagles doing what they do best; inspire people. However, you don’t have to catch a plane to the far Northwest in search of these majestic birds. For those in the Midwest, they are closer than you think.
Many of us have memories of that one iconic Bald Eagle sighting. For me, it was when I was around 6 on the AuSable River in Northern Michigan. A gentleman with the DNR had a scope on a spring nest monitoring the family as the nestlings grew. In the mid 80s, it was extremely hard to find a Bald Eagle. Who knew I would turn into a Birder many years later. In our beautiful Midwest, Bald Eagles aren’t as hard to find as you think, especially in winter. As the cold descends on the mid-west and lush waters slowly freeze, some of the northern populations of Bald Eagles head south in search of open water. While many Bald Eagles stay north and survive on carrion, there are always those birds that thrive on fishing. What this means for us is it’s one of the best times to find and view Bald Eagles. One of the better ways to find Bald Eagles is to first look at a map and find a river close by. If you can find a road that follows the river, drive that with a co-pilot looking upward. It won’t take long before you see one. Up-stream from a dam is a also great place to find them. In the cold of winter, find a dam on a frozen river.
Typically there is always open water on the downstream side of the dam. Bald Eagles will congregate in these areas and you have the chance of seeing LOTS of Bald Eagles in one spot. If that doesn’t get the heart pumping, birding might not be your hobby!
Spend time in the winter birding instead of being stir-crazy indoors. Remember, there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.