Jan 21, 2022 - News

Bald eagles are everywhere in Iowa. Here's how to see one

A bald eagle
Bald eagle seen in downtown Des Moines. Photo courtesy of Tom Alex

Step aside, Midwest neighbors β€” Iowa is the belle of the ball when it comes to attracting bald eagles this winter.

Driving the news: Not only are these large raptors actively out and about right now β€” you'll likely find groups of them hanging around together.

What's happening: The Midwest's recent harsh temperatures are prompting bald eagles to say goodbye to Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan and migrate to Iowa instead, said Stephanie Shepherd, a wildlife biologist at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

  • Bald eagles travel until they find a good fishing spot β€” and we're chock-full of them, especially along the Mississippi River.
  • Iowa DNR staff counted 700 eagles along the Iowa River in east-central Iowa and more than 1,500 eagles along the lower stretch of the Des Moines River already this year.

Where to find them: Because the frigid temperatures are freezing waterways, high concentrations of bald eagles are congregating around open water to hunt for fish and fowl.

  • In Des Moines, the 6th Street Bridge is a popular congregating spot, Shepherd said.

But act fast: Once nesting season starts up in mid-February, it will be harder to gander at our feathered friends, Shepherd said.

Eagles in downtown Des Moines
Bald eagles congregate in downtown Des Moines. Photo courtesy of Tom Alex
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