How exhilarating would it be to see not one, but several of our national birds up close? Lock & Dam 18 is the spot to be! Just outside of Greater Burlington, flocks of bald eagles make their appearance in January and February every year. Some locals have been lucky enough to snap a picture of the beautiful bird by Big Muddy’s (a restaurant right on the riverfront). Whether you are traveling the Great River Road or just passing through, this is a sight to see!
On January 27, at 10 in the morning, stop out to the Port of Burlington Welcome Center and learn more about this fascinating bird. Des Moines County Conservation will share their knowledge with the group and travel to Lock and Dam 18 from there. Spend a day in a naturalist’s shoes and help count the eagles at this free event!
Most spectators find it easy to spot the animals by their striking white head. For those who want more of an in-depth challenge, try and identify a juvenile eagle. The adolescent birds are difficult to point out as they are characterized by a dark brown head.
Volunteers will partake in counting eagles throughout the winter months along the Mississippi River from Minnesota to Tennessee and submit their findings to the Eagle Nature Foundation. This foundation implements different strategies for endangered species and raises public awareness.
There was, unfortunately, a time when the Iowa waterways hosted very few bald eagles. A hazardous pesticide known as DDT took most of the blame for the endangerment of the animal. Thankfully, due to different laws passed, the national bird was removed from the endangered species list in 2007.
When the river freezes, the eagles congregate below the lock and dam to feed on fish in the open water. A count was taken at Lock & Dam 18 on January 3 identifying 491 adults and 66 juveniles. Those numbers alone should make you jump in your car and take this adventure just outside of Greater Burlington!
For further viewing of the eagle counts, click here.