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Mid-winter Bald Eagle Count: Jan 24, 2009

As an active participant in the Eagle Nature Foundation Mid-winter Bald Eagle Count Peoria Audubon Society annually sends out 5 teams to count bald eagles along the Illinois River from Henry to Havana, IL.  The data from the local count feeds into counts throughout the Midwest from Minnesota to Tennessee.  To enhance the statistical significance of the eagle census, the counts are held on the same date. 

Locally one of the 5 teams counts from a boat that goes down the River from Pekin to Havana. Two teams cover Henry to Peoria and two teams cover Peoria to Havana. Each team is on their respective side of the river. 

This year, due to the zero to single digit temperatures, the Illinois River was nearly completely frozen, except for the shipping channel.  the presence of river ice caused the river boat count to be cancelled.  At least the bitter cold day was sunny. 

Count Area Adult Sub-Adult Immature Unknown  Total
Downtown Henry 2 0 0 1 3
Henry S to Peoria 38 2 11 0 51
Peoria to Havana 110 8 25 0 143
Boat Crew River Not Navigable on Count Day: Unsafe for Boat Crew 
Totals 150 10 36 1 197

Despite the single digit temperatures, Dennis, webmaster for Peoria Audubon, took a few photos along the way from Peoria to Havana on the East side of the Illinois River.  Dale Goodner graciously volunteered to assist with the driving and counting.   

Bald Eagles (10) from Riverfront Park, Pekin

At Riverfront Park in Pekin, Dennis and Dale counted 29 eagles up and down along the river.  In the above image, thermals are distorting the images of the highly cropped photo.  Note that these eagles were perhaps 1/2 -3/4 mile in the distance.  High magnification spotting scopes were a must. 

Bald Eagle in Pekin

The above eagle was resting in a tree along the river bank in the south part of Pekin by the ethanol fermentation plant. 

Wider View of Bald Eagle in Pekin

The above image is a wider view of the eagle by the fermentation plant.

Coopers Hawk

In the early morning sun, the above Coopers Hawk was "fluffing" up as much as possible to keep warm in the 3 F temperatures.  Note how the hawk was keeping one leg up to help keep a little warmer.

Great Blue Heron on Ice at Spring Lake

At Spring Lake, the above Great Blue Heron was standing on one leg to help a little against the exposure in the cold. 

Great Blue Heron on Ice at Spring Lake

Flock of Great Blue Herons at Spring Lake

Flock of Great Blue Herons at Spring Lake

At Spring Lake, we encountered a flock of about 40 Great Blue Herons.  With the lake frozen, they were standing in a low area to help keep out of the wind. 

Canada Geese on Edge of Ice

The above Canada Geese were on the edge of the ice.  With the cold temperatures, the water movement was keeping ice from forming in this one area. 

Sub-adult Bald Eagle Near Havana

A couple of miles, just north of Havana, we spotted the above sub-adult bald eagle.  Note the dark line among the white feathers in the head.  The white feathers on the birds belly help classify it as a sub-adult.  This bird is probably 3-4 years old. 

Distant Mute Swans Resting on Ice at Banner Marsh

The Peoria Audubon Society wishes to thank those who helped volunteer their time to get out in the bitter cold for this worthy endeavor. 


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