On January 15, 2017, count you collectively tallied 75 eagles through 38 volunteer hours invested (Table). Thank you all very much for your efforts. Your dedication, even though trials of global warming have collided with counts, you have all persevered. As with the last count, eagle numbers are still quite low compared to other years at this time (Figure 1). This is shaping up to be as low as seen during winter 2009/2010 but there is more winter to come so things might still change. Since the winter of 1999/2000 there have been 5 winters where the highest count of the season occurred during the last three counts of the year (Figure 1). Of course, it would help if it stopped raining…
If it doesn’t stop raining we are on track to having the third lowest count of eagles in our history of counting since winter 1989/1990 (Figure 2). That’s almost 30 years for those of us who have run out of fingers and toes to count on!
Even with the low number of eagles in our area, the birds that were here put on a great show for Eagle Days. Eagles were seen throughout the Sauk Prairie area all day on Saturday and Sunday. With the ice on the river at that time, birds had been shifting upriver so Ferry Bluff and Blackhawk Roosts were well populated with birds (Table). The higher number of birds at inland roosts like Leland and Ederer/Been suggests that food in the river is poor or that food availability off river is high. Even in the downriver roost of Lone Rock, most of the eagles tallied there were feeding on a carcass in an ag field near the junction of Lower Wyoming Valley Road and Highway C. Very few eagles flew in from the river.
The other interesting aspect of eagle behavior noted by observers this weekend is the late arrival in roost by many of the eagles. It appears as though well over half of the eagles didn’t fly into roost until 4:30 P.M. Most of the eagles at Lone Rock hadn’t left the carcass to fly into roost by the end of the count at 5:15. I have often seen eagles fly into roost up to 30 minutes post counting so late arrivals is not terribly unusual behavior but might speak to the food needs of the birds as does the low numbers that we are seeing. Again, time will tell. Hungry birds will pick at carcasses longer than will sated birds.
For February I will try to work up the fish/eagle data more so that we can look into that aspect more. Until then, Barb and I will head out in search of winter on Saturday (January 21). Ely, MN is our best bet to find the real deal. We will be out of town for the next count on January 29. Please call in your results to Mike Kierski at 608-544-2140 or e-mail Mike at [email protected] Mike will submit the reports to Jen and Jen will distribute the reports to all of you as per usual.
Again, thank you very much for your efforts.
Figure 1. Coordinated eagle count results for 7 counts conducted each winter in the Sauk Prairie area 1999 – 2017.
Table. Coordinated roost count results for the winter of 2016/2017 by roost.
Figure 2. Maximum number of eagles counted each winter in the Sauk Prairie region 1988 – 2016.
2017 Bus Tour Schedule
Day Date Time
Sat 1/7/17 10:00 am
Sat 1/14/17 Eagle Days!
Sat 1/21/17 10:00 am
Sat 1/28/17 10:00 am
Sat 2/4/17 10:00 am
Sat 2/11/17 10:00 am
Sat 2/18/17 10:00 am
To reserve a spot, call the Cedarberry Inn at 608.643.6625
$5 per person Children 5 & younger are FREE
These are very popular, Reservations are strongly encouraged.
Gene Unger, President
Gene Unger Consulting, LLC, Retired Mgr. Procurement & Commercial Contracting, Alliant Energy
Barb Barzen, Vice President
Ramona Unger, Secretary
Retired, American Family Insurance – Life Division
Penny Barrett, Treasurer
Retired Director of Financial Aid, Cazenovia College, New York
Consultant, Retired Conservation Biologist
Doctorate Degree, Managing Environmental Scientist, Exponent
Beekeeper, Agrace Hospice Volunteer, Branch Office Administrator – Edward Jones
Jared Walker Smith
Attorney, LaRowe Gerlach Taggart LLP
Digital Media Consultant, JenGraph Designs