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Iowa (and Illinois) Part VI
Eagles along the Mississippi, January 20-21, 2009
[Photos]

I squeezed in a couple days at my usual eagling haunts near Burlington and Keokuk, Iowa. For the short time I was there I got a couple OK shots, including the one of an eagle vocalizing at left.

Eagle vocalizing
Eagle vocalizing

There's not much to say that I haven't said before. If you want to see lots of eagles, head to Lock and Dam 18 across the river from Burlington, Illinois. Although it appeared at first glance that numbers were down, scanning the opposite shore showed hundreds roosting in the trees. Perhaps it was just that the birds weren't flying over to the Illinois side that day. In previous years I have seen conditions change from one day to the next depending on the wind.

In Keokuk, there were the usual birds roosting in the trees along the river, and I was able to get close enough for a good roosting shot. I also got a few fishing images that were OK but I'm still waiting for that ultimate shot.

Eagle with fish.
Eagle with fish.

I was on my way to the St. Louis airport to fly to Texas for a few days. On the way back I stopped in Keokuk again hoping to get some more fishing images, but the weather was deteriorating and I headed north to avoid getting caught in a snowstorm. I was able to make a stop at the fish hatchery near Decorah, Iowa to check out an eagle's nest that was featured on a PBS Nature show. In the show the eagles seemed to be there for much of the winter, but there weren't any around when I stopped. Maybe I'll get a chance to drive through there again in the spring to see if anything showed up.

I also drove out to the dam at Pickstown on the Missouri River in South Dakota several weeks later to see what was flying around there. Last year I got one of my better flight shots there, but this time the weather was warmer and the 10 or so eagles were very skittish.

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Photos 1998-2014 by Thomas O'Neil