2012 Illinois Mid-Winter Bald Eagle survey results

By on March 5, 2012

SPRINGFIELD—The annual Mid-Winter Bald Eagle Survey, coordinated by the Illinois Audubon Society, was conducted between the dates of Jan. 4 and 18.

Nationally, this effort is administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The goal of the survey is to maintain the long-term, national coordination of the surveys collected, analysis of that data and reporting of the results.

The 2012 statewide surveyors counted 2,152 eagles, up slightly from the 2,108 birds counted in 2011. Surveyors noted that while milder temperatures have kept rivers free of ice, it had been cold enough to freeze most of the backwater areas. Normally, surveyors face harsh winter conditions while conducting their surveys. Routes can be treacherous due to ice and/or snow cover, high water levels and sudden snowstorms the day of the survey can impair visibility.

“We were blessed with pleasant weather and lots of bald eagles,” said surveyor Chris Krusa of the Piasa Palisades Group—Sierra Club Illinois, Glen Carbon.

A total of 44 routes are conducted each year in Illinois. Twenty-nine of those routes are located on the Mississippi River and nine on the Illinois River. Additional routes include Ohio and Wabash Rivers, Crab Orchard Lake, Horseshoe Lake Conservation Area and Carlyle Lake. The largest populations of the eagles spotted were counted along the Mississippi River (76 percent of the overall total), followed by 36 percent observed on the Illinois River and 8 percent sighted on the remaining surveys. The number of adults versus immature eagles reported on these surveys, an important indicator of recovery and survival remains at 60 percent and 40 percent, respectively.

Information regarding the 2012 survey and previous year’s data can be obtained by calling the Illinois Audubon Society at (217) 544-2473.