Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Monday, March 4, 2013

Bald Eagles: Then and Now

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A feeding immature Bald Eagle in Fillmore County, Minnesota by Mr Science from his and Bobbies blog "Nature Notes."

Historically, eagles did not nest in my home county of Fillmore, Minnesota, which is about sixty miles west from the Upper Mississippi River Valley. Something strange and wonderful has been happening in our county in recent decades regarding the American Bald Eagle.  Since their great recovery after their “almost” extinction from DDT, fifty years ago, the eagles have increasingly been making a home here in Fillmore County.
Everyone knows that Eagles love fish. Lake and river habitats are especially attractive to them. So why should they be moving into the only county in The Land of Ten Thousand Lakes that does not have a single lake in it? The reasons are surely not clear. Population growth and expansion is obviously related. But these magnificent birds are clearly adapting their eating habits as well.  Road kill is very popular with them and they are often seen feeding on deer carcasses or following manure spreaders in the winter. Many deer are shot but not found by hunters in the fall deer hunting season.  My friend, Mr. Science (Gary) speculates that the eagles are replacing the turkey vultures as winter scavengers. The vultures migrate south in the winter.
It’s been, perhaps, thirty some years since I saw my first eagle nest here.  Now our county has dozens of nests scattered throughout. They are found especially in the northern and eastern portions.  In recent weeks the nests have been refurbished and now many of them have eggs and sitting birds. How exciting….

 
 
 
It was a sight it was a sight I had waited years to see....a mature Bald Eagle in the field adjacent to my back yard. The eagle was sitting next to a puddle of water less than 100 yards from my door. Further investigation showed that the melting snow had revealed a deer carcass. Voila! Chow time for our national symbol. 



A short personal history of the fall and return of the Bald Eagle:


Late 1950's - I bought my first canoe for fishing trips down the beautiful St Croix River and into the BWCA. When the eagles disappeared from the St. Croix Valley, it happened in such a way we didn't really notice it at first. There were still a few eagles in the BWCA and the Superior National Forest. Then I read Silent Spring.... and noticed.

The Clean Air and Water Act, the EPA, the banning of DDT and an Endangered Species list followed and began to turn the tide. Finally then we gradually saw them return to the St Croix. Increasing numbers were wintering in the Mississippi River Valley. And then they began to appear here in Fillmore County, about sixty miles from the Big River. I began to see more and more on my trout fishing  days along the streams of Bluff County. Then maybe 20 years ago the first nesting was spotted here on a canoe trip down Bear Creek with Mr. Science. Now birds are overwintering here as well. Wonderful!
 

 

22 comments:

  1. Such wonderful news that not only are the Bald Eagles making a come back, but they nesting so close to you! A couple of years ago my hubby and I took an "eagle river cruise" around one of the lakes in Land Between the Lakes, KY. The eagles nest in this area and then leave. We saw 25 eagles on that tour. It was awesome!! Great pic of you with the eagle!

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  2. really great you have them around you! i've never seen a bald eagle in the wild.

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  3. What a great sight! Believe it or not we have a mature bald eagle who has been spotted on our largest lake several times this winter. Now that is strange indeed.

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  4. Very nice to see them nesting. A few stick around here but most generally leave for more north areas and the vultures do take their place.

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  5. Thanks for the info and speculation. The last few years I've seen eagles here in N St Louis Co MN. Even in winter. So I did wonder because I thought they needed water, like by Wabasha. I saw two eagles and two ravens on a road kill by my house last week.

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  6. That is so great --that the EAGLES are back in your home county. I love eagles ---but never see them much. You are so very very lucky. Great photos.
    Betsy

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  7. Thank God Eagles were able to come back-here in Connecticut too.I didn't see my first one in Connecticut until I was 30 but now I see them regularly.

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  8. That's great! I love photographing the Eagles. And I'm so glad they've made a come-back.

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  9. The eagle population is a good news story and your account is full of important info. I wish we had similar news on many other bird species. song bird populations have plunged and causes are not obvious at this time.

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  10. We have many to spare up here..we could share. If the water isn't open they are busy with roadkill and stealing cats and small dogs:(

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  11. Shane has been putting some of the trapping "remains" in our fields and we have been seeing many eagles and hawks. A joy to see.

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  12. Wow, your own personal eagle. How amazing. My neighbor says we have them in our neighbor hood but I have yet to see one.

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  13. Aren't they magnificent birds!! Wonderful!
    xo Catherine

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  14. What a fine piece of writing on the Bald eagles. I have been following their return since becoming aware of their terrible DDT die-offs. Thankfully we had Rachel Carson to alert us to this tragedy to our wildlife. Your post is a reminder that we need to be ever vigilant to the toxic potions that we are using and what harm they might be bringing to our wild ones. Great post -- barbara

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  15. It's wonderful to read that eagles are making such a comeback and our now becoming more numerous in your area. They are truly magnificent birds.

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  16. So happy to hear your bald eagles are recovering! We have lots here but I always feel uplifted when I spot one. I loved your photos.

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  17. Thanks for coming to see my blog and now I am so happy to read yours. This is such good news about the eagles as that is my favorite bird. They have increased in population here since the DDT ban but most of them are nesting near a lake or ocean. They do love roadkill though and can survivie on rabbit, rodents etc.
    Ours eat seagulls also as some areas are fished out here. I must check out your blog. cheers.

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  18. A beautiful sight...and inspiring post!

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  19. Wow, fascinating: I of course know the eagle restoration (thank you, Endangered Species Act) success story, but always thought they were native to the whole northern tier of the U.S. Cool. Though I'd miss turkey buzzards.

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  20. There are even a few Bald Eagles where I live near the Temagami Wilderness Area. The Peregrine Falcon and the Bluebirds have also recovered from the DDT disaster. Sadly and to our shame DDT is still made in North America and used widely in South American. It is taking its toll on the songbird population. The forests are growing silent.

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  21. Great post, I'm in too suburban of an area to observe such birds however when traveling into Boston on a busy thoroughfare we've been entertained by a nesting pair of redtails in an office building http://185redtail.blogspot.com/, a Peregrin was dueling them for territory and has won for now, http://friendsofalewifereservation.org/2012-04-08-buzz-and-ruby.htm, so, they haven't been back but it is amazing how wildlife adapts to it's surroundings - whether out in the country or the city. Hopefully you will continue to be able to watch these amazing birds for a long, long time.

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