Time to Eagle Watch

by Free Speech on December 13, 2010

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

River Currents
by Gary Engberg
©2010 Gary Engberg Outdoors

I’m lucky enough to get the best of both worlds. I live on the Lower Wisconsin Riverway where I can fish, hunt, hike, view all kinds of wildlife, and enjoy some of the state’s most beautiful scenery in my “backyard” all within a relatively short drive of major population centers like the state capital of Madison or Milwaukee. The Riverway has something for everyone who likes the outdoors, diverse wildlife, Lower Wisconsin Riverwaymagnificent fauna and flora, and the many birds and waterfowl that reside along and near the 92.3 miles that the Riverway runs westward. It starts at the Prairie du Sac Dam and flows to the Mississippi River giving visitors things of beauty and interest that cannot be found anywhere else in the state or country.
The Lower Wisconsin Riverway was formed in 1989 after a decade of cooperative efforts by citizens, the DNR, environmental groups, and yes, even politicians. The goal was to provide a quality area for public use in recreational activities that are compatible with the Riverway’s natural resources and maintain and benefit the long-term goals of its users. The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway boundary contains 79,275 acres, of which 44,000 acres are owned by the state.
So, I hope that you see why I love where I live and encourage people to use and enjoy these wonderful resources that are so close to our homes. My work station overlooks the Wisconsin River and whenever I’m at my desk I’m looking at the river flowing by and all the wildlife, birds, and waterfowl that call this area home! It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is because I’m blessed with the beautiful scenery and all the wildlife that calls this area home.
One day last week, I was working at my desk and a large shadow flew across my window view. It was a mature eagle gliding down the river looking for a meal. This was a good sign to me because the beginning of December is a little early for the eagles that winter in the open waters of the Wisconsin River to arrive. But, I’d been seeing eagles for a week and the waters and weather to our north must have frozen up and forced the bald eagles to migrate from Canada, Minnesota, and northern Wisconsin to the Wisconsin River Valleys that provide the birds with open water, food, and roost trees that allow the eagles to get out of the harsh winds of a Wisconsin winter. I’ve lived here for over 20 years and eagles are regular visitors during every winter, but their numbers can fluctuate from year to year.
Sunday, December 5th, was the first day that the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council had members out at the many roost sites in the area surrounding Sauk City to count the eagles as they flew into their roosts before dark. I usually help count, but I had other plans that Sunday.
I received the eagle count on Monday, December 6, from Barb and Jeb Barzen of the Eagle Council. There were 115 eagles counted by members on this first count which is more eagles than were counted during all of last winter’s counts. Last winter, the largest count was on January 3rd when 101 eagles were counted. Another interesting fact is that the birds were spread out over a larger area than normal with more eagles at the Lone Rock Roost and the Ferry Bluff Roost. There are numerous occurrences this year that don’t fit the normal patterns, but that is why the counts are done every year to gather more information and data on these winter visitors. Every year, more is learned about the bald eagle and the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council is responsible for much of this knowledge. The eagle counts will continue all winter till March with members counting every other Sunday.
The recent snow storm and cold temperatures will bring more eagles to the area. I would highly recommend visiting the Wisconsin Riverway whenever you have the time this month. There are many birds to view in the area and all one has to do is contact the Sauk Prairie Chamber of Commerce (608-643-4168 or www.saukprairie.com ) or the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council (www.ferrybluffeaglecouncil.com) for any information you may need. This year, the 2011 Bald Eagle Watching Days is January 14 and 15, 2011. This is a great event with bus tours to view eagles, seminars, guest speakers, and many more events for both adults and children. I suggest that you come to the area as soon as you can to view the eagles before the big weekend and thousands of people. There are many eagles to see in easy viewing locations, so take advantage of this great opportunity. www.garyengbergoutdoors.com

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