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"Adopt" an eagle nest and help pay for surveys, rehabilitation, research, protection and education.

Contact information
For information on bald eagles, contact:
Laura Jaskiewicz
Research scientist

Bald eagle watching in Wisconsin

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.

Eagle watching events

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

Never disturb birds at a roost: 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.

Eagles in Wisconsin

Eagle license plate

Celebrate eagles’ comeback and help
support the next conservation success
by buying our new bald eagle license plate.

Bald Eagles prefer large trees in isolated areas with proximity to water, and large complexes of deciduous forest, coniferous forest, wetland, and shrub communities. Large lakes and rivers with nearby tall pine trees are preferred for nesting.

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 2017, there were a record 1,590 occupied eagle nests found during DNR surveys in the spring.

Biologists conduct aerial surveys of the nests to have up-to-date information about whether nests are occupied so DNR can provide the best guidance to landowners on how to effectively protect bald eagle nests. 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.

Eagle nests are federally protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service guidance states that human activity should be avoided from January 15 - July 30 within a set distance of a nest, depending on the activity. Please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's eagle permit pages [exit DNR] for more guidance based on the activity being conducted.

Help protect Wisconsin's eagles

DNR's work with bald eagles is funded by donations through the Adopt an Eagle Nest program. Individuals and organizations are able to "adopt" a nest and help pay for surveys, rehabilitation, research, protection and education.

Last revised: Wednesday March 07 2018