SPRINGFIELD, IL – A record-setting number of American bald eagles was reported during the annual Illinois Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey coordinated by the Illinois Audubon Society. Volunteers tallied 5,975 birds between the dates of January 1 and January 15, 2014.
Extremely cold temperatures in northern parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin
caused a surge in the numbers of over-wintering birds along the
Illinois waterways. Survey routes are located on the Mississippi and
Illinois Rivers with additional routes on the Ohio and Wabash Rivers,
Crab Orchard Lake, Horseshoe Lake Conservation Area and Carlyle Lake.
According to Tom Clay, the Society’s Executive Director, “our 2014
survey surpassed 2013 (2,325 total) and topped the highest recorded
count (since 1992) of 4,292 reported in 2008.” The largest populations
of the eagles spotted were counted along the Mississippi River (93.6% of
the overall total), followed by 4.4% observed on the Illinois River and
2% sighted on the remaining routes. The number of adults versus
immature eagles reported on these surveys, an important indicator of
recovery and survival, remains at 60% and 40%, respectively.
Nationally, this effort is administered by the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers (USACE). The goal of the survey is to maintain the long-term,
national coordination of the surveys collected, analysis of that data,
and reporting of the results. Locally, survey data collected provides
information on eagle trends, distribution and habitat and helps create
public interest in bald eagles and their conservation.
Information regarding the 2014 survey and previous years’ data can be
obtained by calling the Illinois Audubon Society at 217.544.2473.