Chicago Sun-Times
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Illinois bald eagle surveys ``surge''

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Here's facts to back up the impression we were seeing more bald eagles this winter. On Tuesday, the Illinois Audubon Society reported the 2008 Midwinter Bald Eagle Count of 4,292 was 2,372 more than in 2007.

What the nationwide counts show will be more statistically significant. Because eagle counts are so weather dependent (and believe it or not the surveys were done in a relatively warm stretch) the state counts can vary widely from year to year, such as from 2007 to 2008.

In Illinois, the ground surveys were conducted in January with the Mississippi River basin yielding a count 3,793, the Illinois River basin 171 and the Ohio River, Crab Orchard, Carlyle and Horseshoe lakes 328.

Here is the complete release from the Illinois Audubon Society.

``2008 Midwinter Bald Eagle Count Surges

SPRINGFIELD, IL – If the Midwinter Bald Eagle surveyors were disappointed with the low number of bald eagles they saw during the 2007 survey, they were ecstatic with this year’s results. The 2008 count was 4292 bald eagles, 2372 more than were counted last year.

Ground surveys were conducted January 2-16 with target dates of January 11 and 12 within the Illinois and Mississippi River watersheds. The Illinois River basin produced 171 and the Mississippi River basin yielded 3793. Other areas surveyed, including the Ohio River, Crab Orchard, Carlyle and Horseshoe Lakes contained 328.

The bald eagle survey categorizes eagles as adults, immature, and of undetermined age. This year 2434 adults, 1711 immature eagles, and 147 of undetermined age were counted. Of the total number, 40% were immature birds, indicating progress in the recovery of the bald eagle.

Each year surveyors leave their warm homes or offices to brave the cold and snow to count bald eagles along standard survey routes and survey routes of 2 to 120 miles in length. Although official assessments of bald eagle recovery are based on summer nesting populations, the midwinter count gives an idea of the trend in numbers. Since the number of birds in Illinois depends on local weather conditions at the time of the count, nationwide numbers rather than those of just one state are compared from year to year. This year’s temperatures were milder than last year with less ice on the rivers.

Illinois Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey is coordinated by the Illinois Audubon Society. The United States Army Corps of Engineers coordinates the national survey. Illinois surveyors include employees of state and federal wildlife agencies, college instructors, students, members of the Illinois Audubon Society, and other interested individuals.

The mission of the Illinois Audubon Society is to promote the perpetuation and appreciation of native plants and animals and the habitats that support them. Independent from National Audubon, the Illinois Audubon Society is a privately supported, not-for-profit, statewide organization. It was founded in 1897 and is Illinois’ oldest private conservation organization with over 2300 members, 19 chapters and 13 affiliate groups. IAS currently owns and manages 12 wildlife sanctuaries and has saved over 2600 acres which are now being protected and managed for habitat and biodiversity throughout Illinois.''


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6 Comments

Good news!! We went to the Mississippi last month are were rewarded with great views and numbers of eagles. Great experience to see so many eagles in one spot!!!!

I am so thrilled to tell you that after living at this house for 20 years, and only spotted 2 or 3 bald eagles in those 20 years, we no have a pair of bald eagles this year building a nest across the river from our house. We watch them every day hunt and build. My worry is when it warms up and all the recreational boats come out that they will scare them away again. I think they planned this new home carefully, as the tree they have chosen is near a small bay, and we are at the confluence of three rivers meeting and at one end is the Dresden lock and dam. I pray they will continue to raise their eaglets here every years. We are in Illinois on the Kankakee River where Des Plaines and Illinois Rivers meet.

I live in Kankakee IL by the town of Aroma Park and last Tuesday there was a bald eagle in my back yard-high in the trees. I couldn't believe it. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

I think bald eagles are more common now than ospreys on the Kankakee. A few years ago I did a story on a bald eagle that wintered at the bend in the river just upstream of Aroma Park.

The Eagle Nature Foundation, LTD, a non-profit group dedicated to preserving habitat for Bald Eagles throughout the world, has conducted Bald Eagle Counts for the past 50 years. The data they have collected is different from the data collected by the Audubon Society because it relies on counters who remain in their destinations. Traveling counters will often recount the same birds, as the eagles do not remain stationary. ENF's data shows a decline in the percentage of young versus adult eagles, indicating a trend of decreasing reproduction, which could eventually collapse the eagle populations on this continent.

Spoted Bald Eagle today 9-5-2011 1 mile west of LeRoy Speer on US Route 136 Eating on road kill. The Head was white

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on March 11, 2008 11:22 AM.

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