The Bald Eagles appear to be alive and well. A far cry from their story only a few decades ago, when America’s symbolic bird was on the Endangered Species list.
Last month, I went to observe the eagles wintering along the Mississippi River. They tend to hang out around the locks and dams which have areas of open water, even during the winter’s coldest months. And open water, to an eagle, indicates the diner in open.
The eagles are quite active – swooping along the river, and doing aerial dives into the water, successful in their fishing attempts. I must have seen a dozen birds in the hour I was there.
I spoke to a member of the Army Corps of Engineers who oversees the dam, and also to a member of the local Audubon Society who keeps his eyes on the eagles. They both told me they’ve been doing eagle counts since the 1970s. Thirty years ago, in a counting trip from one dam to the next, a span of less than 20 miles, they saw a total of one Bald Eagle. This year, same span, same time of year, and they reported seeing more than 200.
That’s my environmental portrait.