An adult bald eagle takes flight Monday on the Illinois River near Havana. Photos by Chris Young.
Despite mild weather, bald eagle counts up slightly
Prairie State Outdoors
Counters participating in the annual Mid-Winter Bald Eagle Survey recorded 2,152 eagles, up slightly from the 2,108 birds seen in 2011.
The survey was conducted between Jan. 4 - 18.
Numbers were higher even though weather was unseasonably mild and rivers were mostly free of ice.
In Illinois, the survey is coordinated by the Illinois Audubon Society. Nationwide, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers coordinates the effort.
“We were blessed with pleasant weather and lots of bald eagles,” said surveyor Chris Krusa of the Piasa Palisades Group - Sierra
Club Illinois, Glen Carbon.
A total of 44 routes are conducted each year in Illinois.
Twenty-nine of those routes are located on the Mississippi River and nine on the Illinois River. Additional routes include Ohio and Wabash Rivers, Crab Orchard Lake, Horseshoe Lake Conservation Area and Carlyle Lake.
The largest populations of the eagles spotted were counted along the Mississippi River.
The number of adults versus immature eagles reported on these surveys - an important indicator of recovery and survival - remains at 60 percent and 40 percent, respectively.
A bald eagle approaching adult plumage soars over the Illinois River Monday. The “dirty” head and dark eye stripe suggest the bird is four years old.
Mid-Winter Bald Eagle Survey numbers: