Warm winter impacting eagle population patterns

Warm winter impacting eagle population patterns

Warm winter impacting eagle population patterns

The National Eagle Center in Wabasha is typically a wintertime hotspot.

“We always tell our guests and visitors that winter is the best time to come and see bald eagles,” said Ed Hahn, director of marketing and communications at National Eagle Center.

Due to the highly unusual winter this year, “the eagle viewing game is totally on its head,” Hahn said.

One part of what makes the area unique for eagle-watching is geography. Just a couple miles up the Mississippi River are Lake Pepin and the Chippewa River, which all narrow down and flow through the same channel, creating the perfect spot for feeding in the winter.

“That is a natural magnet to bald eagles in the winter because, again, they’re migrating to this portion of the river because they’re looking to access to fish,” stated Hahn.

But with a mild winter where many bodies of water never truly froze over, the territorial birds weren’t forced to gather along the river for food.

“They’re spread out. They can go just about anywhere on the river to find fish. … They’re out there — we know that. But you’re not seeing them gathered together because the conditions have not forced them to,” Hahn added.

Eagles are hardy animals equipped to handle the Minnesota extremes, so the staff at the Eagle Center say there’s no need to be concerned with the lack of eagles grouped together this winter.

“The eagles themselves, they’re doing fine. They don’t care if it’s cold or hot,” said Hahn. “But for those of us who like to go out and watch eagles, it’s been a frustrating year because of the weather.”