Bald eagles return to eastern Iowa along Mississippi River

The Today File

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — Eastern Iowa is seeing the annual return of bald eagles, attracting area residents and tourists alike.

The raptors hunt over open water. So, as other rivers ice over, the eagles return to open waters along the Mississippi River in the Davenport area, an annual event that also draws countless bird watchers.

The Quad-City Times reports that LeClaire offers a prime spot to view bald eagles.

Wildlife photographer Burt Gearhart said Lock & Dam 14 in LeClaire is “probably the best place in the United States� to see and photograph bald eagles.

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“Alaska has more, but that’s an awfully long plane ride,â€? Gearhart said. “There’s a group of us that go to Lock & Dam 14 every day. We call it ‘the office.’â€?

Other good spots are dams, parks and marinas in Davenport and Rock Island, Illinois, as well as Illiniwek Forest Preserve in Hampton, Illinois.

Bald eagles mate for life, adding to their nests every year. Bob Motz, a retired teacher who leads eagle-spotting tours, said he remembers a 12-foot-tall nest occupied for 36 years, meaning the residing eagles were likely at least 41 years old.

Gearhart noted that those seeking to snap photos of the eagles should know that they fish into the wind. So, to get photos of forward-facing eagles, photographers need to set up with the wind at their backs, he said.

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Information from: Quad-City Times, http://www.qctimes.com

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Waterways Council, Inc.