Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bald Eagles in Northern Illinois

This adult Bald Eagle soared past me while I was on Beehive Lookout, Starved Rock State Park, IL; 2/19/2012.
Bald Eagles have been making a comeback in the Northern Illinois area for over a decade now. The best place to look for them is in Starved Rock State Park near Utica, Illinois. They arrive there to fish along the Illinois River for the Winter. For the past three winters I have made the hour plus drive south from Rockford to get a glimpse of these majestic raptors.  Usually I have to be content to see them perched in distant trees or soaring high above me. A year ago while I climbed up Beehive  Lookout, an adult flew right past me. I only had 4-5 seconds to lift my camera find it in my viewfinder and snap one burst series before it was already hidden by trees. Out of the few pics that resulted from the burst, I managed two that I thought were pretty good (Above and Below).
The same Bald Eagle, Beehive Lookout, Starved Rock State Park, IL; 2/19/2012.
I couldn't have been luckier - in the right spot at the right time.

Other than Starved Rock State Park, Bald Eagles can be found in moderate to large numbers during Winter months along the Mississippi River, especially near Lock & Dams where water is not frozen over. In the Spring most of these Eagles will return north to their Summer hunting and breeding grounds in Canada and along both oceanic coasts. However, it has been less rare to find Bald Eagles sticking around our area year round. We've had at least two Bald Eagle nests along the Kishwaukee River last summer. Several times over the past year I have spotted Bald Eagles while hiking along the Kishwaukee and in Rock Cut State Park near Rockford.

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