Bald Eagles

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Since moving to western Illinois, in close proximity to the Mississippi River, I have been amazed to witness the fantastic comeback of the Bald Eagle.

Growing up in rural DuPage County and being an outdoor child, I had dreamed of one day seeing a Bald Eagle in the wild. At that time eagle populations were declining across the North American continent. Science eventually revealed the primary cause to be the widespread use of DDT. The chemical remained in the environment for a very long time and affected the eggs of the Bald Eagle to the extent that eggs were weak and would not sustain a chick. Consequently, their numbers dropped to where they were endangered. Fortunately, DDT use was stopped in the US and just in time to save Bald Eagles from extinction.

Many years later the results have produced a wonderful outcome for this bird. Rebounding in population numbers, I can now say that I have seen many wild Bald Eagles!

Back in 2007, I had a job that took me on a route along the upper Mississippi River into towns like Dubuque, Guttenberg, and McGregor, Iowa. It was during this time I witnessed the growing population of eagles along the river. Sometimes there seemed to be hundreds! Even in the crowded city downtowns like Davenport and Moline these birds sometimes perch in great numbers on building rooftops and on the bridges and riverbanks. They can be seen up and down the river for a good part of the year. Good viewing points are at Pike's Peak State Park near McGregor, Iowa as well as Effigy Mounds further north. LeClaire Iowa is a popular eagle viewing town as well as downriver sites at Burlington, Ft Madison, and Keokuk. There are festivals all around these river towns to celebrate the success of this magnificent bird. The Bald Eagle story is one we should pay close attention to as it could be a lesson and example of how we as humans impact our environment and other species we co-exist with on this planet.

A wonderful surprise greeted me recently as I returned home from a Christmas morning brunch to see a Bald Eagle perched on the roof of my house. I thought of how my childhood wish had been fulfilled beyond my wildest dreams.

I can now enjoy these birds in my own backyard and in the countryside surrounding my home. I am happy that they are a huge success story and hope they remain forever in their rightful place in our natural world.

Rose Moore – Master Naturalist January 2018

Today's post was written by Rose Moore. Rose is a Certified Master Naturalist serving Henderson, Knox, McDonough & Warren Counties. She enjoys exploring the natural world around her and recording the experiences in art and writing.