This year’s midwinter bald eagle survey conducted Jan. 10 along the Missouri River revealed 61 bald eagles, slightly above-average since the survey started in 1986.
Patrick T Isakson, conservation biologist with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, said the survey route from Bismarck to the Garrison Dam is conducted at the same time each year, and in coordination with other surveys nationwide.
“Conducting the surveys close to the same day throughout the nation reduces the number of eagles that may be counted by other surveys as eagles tend to move around,” Isakson said.
Large numbers of waterfowl are allowing a high number of bald eagles to winter in the state. “A change in weather conditions will force waterfowl to migrate further south, thus the eagles will follow,” Isakson said.
Eagles are relatively easy to spot as they prefer to perch in large cottonwood trees along the river. Adult bald eagles have a white head and tail and a dark brown body, while immature bald eagles are brown with irregular white plumage. Golden eagles, which are also counted, are dark in color and have a gold cap on their head.