Help needed for annual eagle count

APPLE RIVER – Volunteers are needed Jan. 26-27 for the 59th annual Mid-Winter Bald Eagle Count.

Eagle Nature Foundation plans to document eagles along the Mississippi River from Minnesota to Louisiana, as well as the Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Rock, and Pecatonica rivers in Illinois and the Cedar, Maquoketa, Skunk, Turkey and Wisconsin rivers in Iowa.

Inland wintering areas will be included.

This annual bald eagle count is being conducted throughout the Midwest from Northern Minnesota to Louisiana.

To eliminate duplication, the count is actually a three-hour count on Saturday, with Sunday being used only if weather, or health, does not allow a person or organization to count the bald eagles in their own locality on the official count day.

At least 90% of the eagles will be counted before 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Each year some counters start the day by counting the bald eagles that may be seen leaving their nighttime roosts, while it is still so dark that the birds are only silhouettes flying overhead.

Some conservation organizations use teams to count the bald eagles as a project for their club. Counters have used cars, boats and airplanes to count the bald eagles during past counts.

This annual count was started and coordinated for 20 years by the late Elton Fawks from Moline.

Terrence Ingram, president of ENF, from Apple River, has been the coordinator of the count for the past 38 years.

“This count has been the most important bald eagle count in the nation for many, many years,” Ingram said. “It was the results of this count in the early 1960s that truly documented the decline of the bald eagle in the nation. Now this count is the only accurate record of how our eagles are reproducing in the Midwest.

“Since the USFW removed the bald eagle from the Endangered Species List in 2007, there has been no funding for agencies to be involved in monitoring the bald eagle’s reproduction. Most all of their reproduction records are just estimates, or extrapolations, of how many young have been raised. This count helps document what percentage of these young birds have survived,” Ingram said.

The last few years have documented a low percentage of immatures being seen during the count, Ingram said.

Call Ingram at 815-594-2306 or contact him at 300 E. Hickory St., Apple River, IL 61001 before Jan. 26 to get forms and to receive an area assignment.

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