Minnesota Raptor Center program: 9:30 a.m., 12:15 p.m., and 3:00 p.m.
Pella Wildlife program: 11:00 a.m., 1:45 p.m.
Childrens Activities: 9:00 a.m to 4:30 p.m.
Exhibitors and Vendors: 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
5th Annual Dubuque Sports and Recreation Restival: 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Bald Eagle Watching: 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Lock and Dam #11
This day-long event is a celebration of the Bald Eagle. Several programs throughout the day will feature the Bald Eagle and other raptors. There are activities for children. A variety of exhibitors offer everything from nature books to nature photographs. Spotting scopes at Lock and Dam 11 provide an opportunity to see Bald Eagles in their natural setting. Click here to read the brocure.
The Bald Eagle is our national bird. Bald Eagles live only in North America and their range extends from the southern United States to Canada and Alaska. They live along coasts, rivers, lakes, and wet prairies.
Adult Bald Eagles are easy to identify by their dark brown bodies, their white heads and tail feathers, and their yellow eyes, beaks and claws. Bald Eagles are not really bald at all. The word bald comes from an old English word “balde” which meant white. Bald Eagles acquire their adult plumage when they are four to five years old. As juveniles, they are mostly brown. When they are two to three years old, they have mottled brown feathers with blotchy patches of white on their underside and tail.
An adult Bald Eagle stands about 3 feet tall and has a wingspan of 7 to 8 feet. The females are larger than the males. Females weigh 10 to 14 pounds while males weigh 8 to 9 pounds. Bald Eagles can live up to 30 years in the wild.
Bald Eagles are birds of prey. They eat mostly fish, but will also eat small mammals, turtles, waterfowl, and carrion. Their strong curved beaks help tear food into smaller pieces. They have sharp claws called talons that help them catch and hold on to slippery fish. Bald Eagles can fly 20 to 40 mph and can dive at speeds around 100 mph. They have powerful eyesight that is 7 to 8 times more powerful than human eyesight. An eagle could see a mouse across the length of a football field. They are called diurnal animals because they are active during the day.
It is generally believed that Bald Eagles mate for life. They choose a large tree near an adequate supply of fish for a nesting site. The nest will be about 4 feet in diameter and about 3 feet deep. They often use the same nest year after year and they add more twigs and branches each year. Their nest is called an aerie. The female usually lays 2 eggs each year, but many times only one of the babies survives. Baby eagles are called eaglets. They will begin to fly about 3 months after birth.
During the winter, large numbers of Bald Eagles can be seen above the locks and dams on the Mississippi River. The open water provides a place for the eagles to fish. It is estimated that as many as 2,500 eagles spend the winter along the river between Minneapolis, MN and St. Louis, MO. Bald Eagles can often be seen south of Lock and Dam #11 in Dubuque, IA and at O’Leary Lake on the Wisconsin side of the dam. The Mines of Spain in Dubuque, IA has a mounted scope at the Julien Dubuque Monument and eagles are often seen in that area. Eagles can also be seen south of Lock and Dam #10 in Guttenberg, IA and south of Lock and Dam #12 in Bellevue, IA. In Wisconsin, other good spots for viewing eagles include Wyalusing State Park in Bagley and Nelson Dewey State Park and Riverside Park in Cassville, WI. Many of these riverside communities hold special Eagle Watch Events during the winter.
At one time Bald Eagles nested throughout the United States. Habitat destruction and the shooting of eagles gradually led to a decline in the Bald Eagle population. When Bald Eagles ate the lead that was used in shotgun shells, they suffered from lead poisoning. In the 1960’s the use of the pesticide DDT led to a disastrous decline in population. The DDT washed into the rivers and when the Bald Eagles ate the fish that were contaminated with DDT, the pesticide caused their eggshells to be very thin so that the eggs would break before they hatched. In 1973 the Bald Eagle was placed on the Federal Endangered Species List. Since then, federal and state agencies have been working on protecting and preserving habitat for the Bald Eagle. Their efforts were successful and in 1995, the Bald Eagle was moved to the Threatened Species List. Then in 2007, the Bald Eagle was taken off the Threatened Species List. There are now 10,000 mating pairs of Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states compared to the record low number of 417 mating pairs in 1963.
: Since Bald Eagles require a lot of energy to maintain their body heat during the winter, it is important to stay 300 yards away from them so that they do not waste energy flying away. Stay in your car, use binoculars, and watch them from the opposite side of the river.