Bald Eagle Watching Days

Prairie du Chien, Feb. 27-28 [exit DNR]

Sauk Prairie, Jan. 16-17 [exit DNR]

soaring bald eagle

Read the DNR feature on Bald Eagles and find more places to see them.

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Contact information
For information on bald eagles, contact:
Carly Lapin
Conservation biologist
715-365-8954

Bald eagle watching in Wisconsin

The cold winter months of December through February are good times to find and watch bald eagles in Wisconsin. Since lakes and rivers freeze over in winter, dams and power plants provide areas of open water in which the eagles can fish.

The greatest number of eagles can usually be seen at open-water areas in the mornings as they fly back and forth, searching for their first meal of the day. Wintering eagles also feed on carrion and later in the day can frequently be seen searching for and feeding on dead deer and other animals in the countryside. Once a carcass is located, several eagles often congregate to feed. Late in the afternoon, the eagles head to their favorite night roosting areas - places with large trees that provide protection from cold winds and severe weather.

Places to go

Wisconsin offers numerous opportunities to view eagles and learn more about these majestic birds.

For more regional bald eagle watching opportunities, read "Where eagles land" [exit DNR].

Do not disturb

When viewing eagles, please take care not to disturb them. On public properties all nests are fully protected from disturbances and habitat is managed to promote tall snags and large white pines. Do not venture so close that you cause them to fly off. They need their energy to keep warm through the long winter night. Stay in your car unless you are at a staffed viewing site. Your car makes a good "blind" and does not frighten eagles. Never disturb birds at a roost.

Eagles in Wisconsin

Bald eagle perched in front of full moon.
Bald eagle perched in front of full moon.

Department of Natural Resources researchers and volunteers have monitored and documented the bald eagle's dramatic recovery in Wisconsin. In the early 1970s only a hundred pairs nested in the state. Protection efforts - especially the banning of DDT - have allowed populations of our national emblem to rebound in the state. In 2012, there were 1,337 known eagle nest territories occupied by breeding adults.

Biologists conduct aerial surveys of the nests in spring and summer. Eaglets are counted and some are banded. Researchers also keep track of eagle injuries to determine what factors contribute to eagle mortality in Wisconsin. In the winter, biologists conduct aerial surveys along the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers, and the Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation coordinates volunteers for the national Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey. Read the annual Wisconsin bald eagle and osprey survey report for more details.

The DNR's work with bald eagles is funded by tax checkoff donations on the state income tax form and by the "Adopt an Eagle Nest" program. For $100 a year donation, individuals and organizations are able to "adopt" a nest and help pay for surveys, rehabilitation, research, protection and education.

Last revised: Monday November 10 2014