Cold temperatures, heavy snow and ice have made for prime eagle viewing across the state, state environmental officials said this week.
While warmer weather will scatter eagles inland to look for food, the bitter temperatures will keep them searching for food in any open water, said Bruce Ehresman, a wildlife biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources wildlife.
"Those areas provide an excellent food source and excellent perch sites nearby, so that's where there will be high populations of eagles," Ehresman said in a news release from the state agency.
This coming weekend is the 24th annual Bald Eagle Appreciation Days throughout Iowa, and officials said it should be an opportune time to view the eagles.
The local event, the Linn Grove Eagle Watch, will be held later - Saturday, March 1, with a snow date March 8. Registration is from 8:30 -10 a.m. Refreshements will be served, with speakers and demonstration in the morning and a noon lunch, and outdoor viewing at selected sites.
For more information, contact Wonders of Nature, 712-296-4920 or 712-295-7200.
Ehresman said eagles are making a comeback across the country, and according to the annual Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey, Iowa has gone from 383 birds in 1983, to a high in 2004 of over 4,400. A typical count, he said, is around 3,300 of the birds.
Ehresman said while most of the eagles are concentrated along the Mississippi River, their numbers also are growing along several of the state's rivers. They can often be spotted on the Little Sioux River or Storm Lake.
"A highlight for me is when I can see bald eagles 'kettling'; a group of 40 or 50 flying overhead," Ehresman said. "They're locking talons. They're doing little barrel rolls, all kinds of interaction. They are pretty vocal, too; sitting along the river, always hollering at each other. They're just a dynamic species."