If you enjoy watching Bald Eagles, visiting the Prairie du Chien area is a must! Prairie du Chien is along the migration route and, is a normal wintering area for these birds in the Mississippi River valley.
Prairie du Chien Bald Eagle Appreciation Days
Free birding programs at local hotels Friday & Saturday evening. Saturday's
programs & activities will be held at Hoffman Hall, 1600 S Wacouta
Ave, Prairie du Chien. All programs are free both days. Saturday's activities
Live Bald Eagle and raptor programs, educational exhibits & displays
on birding and the environment, outdoor viewing of Bald Eagles
through spotting scopes, life-sized Bald Eagle nest, various birding
experts on hand, and numerous activities for children. Saturday's
activities will run from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Outdoor bird scopes and
life-sized eagle nest will be located at the Regional Tourism
Center, 211 S Main. The Villa Louis Historic Site will also be open
February 21-23 for tours. The Bald Eagle event is co-sponsored by
Effigy Mounds National Monument and the Prairie du Chien Tourism
Council, 800-732-1673. See poster link below for schedule of
programs and activities.
Bald Eagle Appreciation Days Program
Schedule - 2014
Make plans to attend the
event next year - February 28, 2015
Viewing Locations for Bald Eagle nests
If you would like to report Bald Eagle activities in the area, email your report to this web site or contact the Chamber of Commerce office, 1-800-732-1673.
As the unusual summer high water begins to
recede birding activity on the Mississippi River will once again be
observed. High water has made
access to the river nearly impossible as most all boat landings are
under water. Access is improving
as the river is dropping about six inches a day.
The high water has made shorebird watching in flooded fields
near the river an adventure as occasionally an unusual shorebird is
seen. The fields with water
along Cty Rd K north of Prairie du Chien has been a favorite spot for
finding an interesting shorebird for this time of year.
Species seen include a solitary sandpiper, green herons, great
egrets, and spotted sandpipers.
Inland in coulee country normal bird activity continues.
Young-of-the-year continue to appear and sometimes confuse and
challenge the birder, especially with identification of flycatchers.
At La Riviere Park on Prairie du Chien's south side two pairs
of yellow-breasted chats set up territories in May.
They continue to scold anyone coming into "their" areas.
Orchard orioles are also nesting at the park and will join in
the scolding activity.
Scarlet tanagers young have been seen in woodland areas but the
Carolina Wren has not been seen or heard since April. Wildlife food,
including crab apple, high bush cranberry, and service berry, at the
park is doing well this season.
They will have abundant fruit available for birds and other wildlife
as growth continues. Currently
mulberry and black raspberry are providing a good amount of feed for
birds. Blue birds are in
their second nesting attempt.
Young wild turkeys have been seen along the parks trails.
Dennis and Alice Kirschbaum
Prairie du Chien
Currently Eagle viewing is dictated by the weather. With heavy snow cover and cold temperatures the birds will move inland to small streams with open water to feed for fish. Or they will watch for a farmer that is spreading agricultural carion on snow covered fields.
As the weather warms and snow and ice melts additional areas of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers will open. This open water will provide bald eagles areas for catching their favorite food source, fish. In the Prairie du Chien area this open water will include areas along the river front and along St. Feriole Slough south to the Campion Boat Landing. Check open water areas near the Regional Tourism Center and at the Blackhawk Ave and Washington St. bridges. A scope works from these locations. Be sure to stay in your car, as a car is the best bird blind you can have at these locations. The best views of eagle nests occur north of Prairie du Chien. North of the cemetery on Main Street/County Road K there is a nest on the west side of the highway. This nest can be seen by stopping near the no passing zone sign and looking west. The nest is in a large cottonwood tree in the second tree line. Since early January a pair of eagles have been visiting this nest.
Three nests are located off Ambro Road. When County Road K turns to the right, just before the railroad tracks, turn onto Ambro Road. Follow this road to the left into the Ambro Slough area.One nest is located on the Gremore Lake side, east of Ambro Road, just north of the Wisconsin DNR boat landing.This nest is hard to see once the leaves are on the trees.When there are no leaves you can see the nest by stopping on the road and searching the trees along the edge of the lake just north of the landing. By parking on the boat ramp at the Ambro landing you can see a nest in the far tree line straight west of the landing.Just 100 yards south of the Ambro boat landing and on the west side of slough there is another nest in a large cottonwood tree. This nest is easily seen by simply stopping on the road and looking between the cabins into the first tree line.This is a huge nest and has been at that location for many years.
Lock and Dam 9, 11 miles north of Prairie du Chien, is also a good location to observed eagles feeding or sitting in trees along the river. Go to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lock area or the Gordon's Bay Boat Landing south of the dam for the best viewing. Eagles can also be found feeding on agricultural carrion in fields along U.S. Highway 18 east of Prairie du Chien, between Patch Grove and Mount Hope. North of Prairie du Chien on State Hwy 27 near County Road N watch for eagles feeding on commercial fish waste and agricultural carion in adjacent fields.
There are 5 active eagle nests in the Prairie du Chien area that are easily viewed. The pair of eagles using any of these nests is busy carrying branches and other nesting material to the nest in preparation for the upcoming nesting activity. Egg laying will occur in late February or early March.
The Mississippi River valley is an ideal wintering habitat for the bald eagle. There is food, shelter, and a good source of lifting winds in this area. The bald eagle prefers fish and the river has an abundance of species for the eagle to catch or scavenge. Eagles will also go inland where food sources are available. Eagles need deep valleys to roost in at night for protection from wind and cold.
During the day they use perching trees near open water feeding areas for resting and searching for food. Large riverbank cottonwood and oak trees are ideal for this perch. Eagles spend much of their time soaring over the river looking for food or moving from one area to another. As the cold air of the morning warms it lifts. The greatest lifting action occurs along the river bluffs. Eagles take advantage of this lifting action and can be seen soaring along the bluffs for hours utilizing this free wind. As long as there is open water on the river there will be eagles in the area.
A good spot for eagle viewing is between the Blackhawk Avenue and Washington Street bridges in Prairie du Chien. A large artesian well provides open water. Eagles will perch in trees along the slough. Check the trees along the Mississippi River shore near and across from Lawler Park on St. Feriole Island is another location of eagle activity. The park is west and north of the Blackhawk Avenue bridge. A mounted bird scope for viewing is available (located in back of building) at the Wisconsin Welcome Center/Prairie du Chien Area Chamber of Commerce building, 211 S. Main. Enroute to Prairie du Chien watch for eagles soaring or perching in trees in open field areas looking for food.
You can spend the day or several days viewing eagles. You will need appropriate clothing and binoculars. A spotting scope is nice too. Eagle watching begins in the morning about an hour after sunrise. The birds are most active from then until about 3:00PM, feeding in open water areas. Birds can be seen soaring, perching in riverside trees, and sitting on the ice. By late afternoon the birds will be heading for the roost and will not be active unless you are on a flight path to the roost.
The best places to see eagles in the area include the Gordon's Bay boat landing and Lock and Dam #9, 10 miles north of Prairie du Chien. The boat landing is cleared of snow so eagle watchers can simply park near the ramp facing slightly upstream. Watch for eagles in the big cottonwoods along the Wisconsin shoreline, across the river in trees along the Iowa shoreline, and soaring overhead or over the open water caused by flowing water from the dam. Staying in your vehicle will provide you the best viewing as soaring eagles have been known to come very close to the boat landing with their feeding activity. Eagles will be seen flying and perched in trees along the river as you travel to and from this area from Prairie du Chien.
Effigy Mounds National Monument
Three miles north of Marquette, IA,
Pikes Peak State Park
2.5 miles south of McGregor, IA on Hwy 340
Wyalusing State Park
10 miles south of Prairie du Chien, WI