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Eagle watching days are here!

  • ##Bald eagles are heading to their winter haunts and eagle watching events in several Wisconsin communities in January, February and March offer a great chance to see these majestic birds in their natural settings and at live raptor shows. Exhibits, presentations and other family friendly activities indoors at these events share the story of this bird and its remarkable comeback from the brink of extinction. Learn more about these events on DNR’s Bald Eagle Watching web page. Photo by Brian Collins
  • ##Bald Eagle Watching Days, Jan. 18-19 in Sauk Prairie, kicks off the event season for eagle lovers. Highlights include the release of up to three rehabilitated bald eagles by Marge Gibson and staff from the Raptor Education Group, Inc. The eagle release is set for 1 p.m. on Jan. 19 at VFW park in Prairie du Sac. Other highlights include free guided bus tours to viewing sites, and indoor live raptor shows featuring education birds and trainers from the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Milwaukee. See the event webpage for details.Photo by Matt Ahrens
  • ##2019 is expected to offer good eagle watching opportunities, reflecting the species' remarkable recovery. The national ban on the pesticide DDT, protections under federal and state endangered species law, and nest monitoring and protection efforts supported by citizen donations have made the difference. Bald eagles flew off the state endangered species list in 1997 and the federal list in 2007.

    2018 aerial surveys showed a record 1,695 occupied nests, compared to 108 nests in the early 1970s. See the 2018 survey report. Photo by Lorri Howski
  • ##Bald eagles are pretty amazing. They can fly to an altitude of 10,000 feet and achieve speeds of up to 60 miles per hour in steep dives. Their vision is four times sharper than a human’s and they can build nests that are up to 5 feet across and 3 feet deep. And that’s just for starters. Photo by Brian Collins
  • ##When and where to look for bald eagles? December into March are good times to find and watch bald eagles as they congregate near dams and power plants along major rivers, seeking open water where they can fish. The greatest number of eagles can usually be seen at open-water areas in the mornings. 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.Photo by Brian Collins
  • ##Adult bald eagles are known by their white feathered heads and tails. They don’t fully acquire that distinctive look until their fifth year. The bird on the left is likely in its first year; the bird on the right five years or more.

    Look for these differences in appearance to tell a bald eagle’s age.
    1st year: Dark brown head and belly, speckled with dirty white, brown beak and dark eyes
    2nd year: Mostly white belly, brownish head, grayish beak with dark tip and usually brown eyes
    3rd year: Mottled appearance with yellow beak and yellow eyes
    4th year: Adult-like with brown feathers still present on head and tail
    5th year: (Adult): All-white head, yellow beak and eyes, all white tail Photo credits: Brian Collins, left image; Patty Sampson, right image
  • ##Immature bald eagles can be mistaken for golden eagles, which may migrate here in the winter months from their northern and western nesting grounds. Golden eagles are primarily found in the unglaciated (Driftless Area) ridge and valley areas of western Wisconsin along with the central portions of the state.

    This photo features an immature bald eagle (left) and an immature golden eagle (right) in Yukon Territory, Canada. Key differences include bald eagles’ larger heads and bills; immature bald eagles’ mottled body versus immature golden eagles’ large white patches on their wings and white base of tail. As well, bald eagles’ wings beat steady and deliberate while golden eagles’ wings beat slower and shallower. Photo by John Reynolds / Macauley Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology
  • ##Bald eagles’ remarkable recovery in Wisconsin was made possible by donations from Wisconsinites like you via buying Endangered Resources license plates and filling in a donation on their state income tax form. Now, a bald eagle license plate is available that celebrates that success and citizens’ contributions to it, and raises money to bring back the next endangered species. For an extra $25 a year on top of your annual vehicle registration fee, you’ll get a great looking plate that helps protect and restore the nature you love. DNR graphic
  • ##New DNR Secretary Preston D. Cole helped introduce the new bald eagle plate in fall 2015, when he was chairman of the Natural Resources Board. You too can be a comeback champ and help fund work to protect and restore Wisconsin’s rare species and State Natural Areas. Learn more about getting this ER plate from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Photo by Michael Kienitz
Last Revised: Tuesday January 4, 2019