Bald Eagle Appreciation

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Two large adult bald eagles have been seen in recent weeks on St. Feriole Island in Prairie du Chien sitting either together or separately in the trees just north of Lawler Park. (Photo by Ted Pennekamp)

An adult bald eagle glides over the ice. There are plenty of viewing locations for bald eagles in Prairie du Chien and the surrounding area. (Photo by Donna Higgins)

 

 

Prairie du Chien Bald Eagle 

Appreciation Days Feb. 23, 24

By Ted Pennekamp

 

The 13th annual Bald Eagle Appreciation Days will be held on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23-24 in Prairie du Chien. The event will feature new programs and presentations by state and local birding experts. The event will consist of educational and fun activities for outdoor enthusiasts and the whole family. 

Free programs open to the public begin Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. at Country Inn and Suites, located on Highway 35 in Prairie du Chien. Ty Smedes will start off the event with his new program concentrating on bald eagles, hawks and owls of the Upper Midwest. Kelly McKay, wildlife biologist and director of the BioEco Research and Monitoring Center, will then follow with a presentation entitled “Assessment of Human Activity Impacts on Bald Eagle Reproductive Success on the Upper Mississippi River.”

Highlights on Saturday at Hoffman Hall, 1600 S. Wacouta Ave., will include live bird programs featuring a bald eagle and five other raptors from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., presented by the Schlitz Audubon Society. Other educational programs will include “Bald Eagle Status and Monitoring” by Dan Goltz, Wisconsin DNR wildlife biologist and “Bald Eagle Night Roost Survey” by wildlife biologist Kelly McKay.  Throughout the day, attendees will also be able to view many educational birding and nature exhibits. Children will be able to participate in hands-on activities as they participate in the Bald Eagle Coloring Contest. Country Inn and Suites is sponsoring the coloring contest and the winners will be selected and recognized at Country Inn and Suites on Sunday, Feb. 25 at 1 p.m.

Local birding observation is also be available. For those wishing to view bald eagles in the Prairie du Chien area, two large adult bald eagles have been in trees on St. Feriole Island, Prairie du Chien, just north of Lawler Park for the past several weeks. These two eagles offer relatively close viewing from the comfort of one’s vehicle as well as good photo opportunities. They allow people to get to about 35 yards away before they begin to get a bit agitated. Viewers are encouraged to not get too close so the eagles don’t fly off and ruin the viewing for others. 

Also, there is a bald eagle nest on County K just north of Prairie du Chien on the left as one heads north. There are usually two bald eagles in trees near the nest. Numerous other bald eagles have also been seen in recent days along County K in the Gremore Lake area. These eagles often sit in trees in large groups and many are within about 40 to 50 yards of the road. Another popular spot for observing bald eagles is near Ritter’s Fish Market on Highway 27 between Prairie du Chien and Eastman.

Viewing scopes will also be set up on the grounds of the Prairie du Chien Tourist Information Center. Eagles are often seen flying or in trees near the center.

“With more snow cover and moderating temperatures, eagles will be congregating near areas of open water,” said former DNR conservation warden and area birder Dennis Kirschbaum. “Areas of open water like lock and dam sites or below warm water discharges of power plants, provide areas for eagles to feed. This will happen especially if there is a normally occurring shad die off. Shad, a Mississippi River forage fish, is a preferred food for eagles. As early migrating eagles come to the area, the numbers of eagles will increase. Their movement will be weather dependent.”

Another place to look for eagles is at former nesting sites, said Kirschbaum. Resident eagles will be nesting soon. They are currently repairing their nests and defending their nesting territories.

Prairie du Chien Bald Eagle Appreciation Days is sponsored by Effigy Mounds National Monument and the Prairie du Chien Tourism Council. 

For a complete list of programs and exhibits, as well as times and locations of activities, call (800) 732-1673, or visit the website at http://prairieduchien.org/?q=visitors/eagles.

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