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!