If you never have had the opportunity to see a bald eagle up close, now is one of the best times to view this magnificent bird. The frigid weather that Wisconsin has been experiencing the last month has frozen most of the Lower Wisconsin River. The river is frozen from the Highway 12 Bridge in Sauk City to the Mississippi River at Prairie du Chien. The last time that this happened was the winter of 1996.
The reason that this is such a great time to see eagles is that they are now concentrated in a relatively small area where the river’s water is still open and flowing. The eagle’s main food source is fish (gizzard shad) and the waters that have remained open provide the eagles with the area that they need to feed. The last few winters have been much milder and the birds are then spread out over a much larger area than this year.
Cold weather should remain with us for at least another week or two, so if you have the time take a drive to Sauk Prairie and bring your binoculars and cameras. It’s possible to park in the Alliant Power parking lot directly below the Prairie du Sac Dam and have eagles roosting in trees directly above your vehicle. The Ferry Bluff Eagle Council also has a viewing station with viewing scopes in downtown Prairie du Sac. The best time for seeing eagles is early and late in the day when the birds are active and feeding.
Remember to stay in your cars or trucks, so that you don’t spook the roosting birds. During the cold of winter, you don’t want to scare the eagles from their roosts because this makes them expend energy that they need to survive in this artic weather.
Try to take the drive out Highway 12 during the week because you will have less people viewing and less people mean more eagles for you to see. This is one of winter’s great events for people of all ages. It’s particularly a great place to take your children to see one of natures true wonders that few people ever have the opportunity to see up close and personal.
For more information contact; the Sauk Prairie Chamber of Commerce at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council at email@example.com.