View Full Version : Mississippi River Eagle Update ( Central IA / IL)

Mark Theriot
01-24-2010, 12:04 PM
Lock and dam 14 and 15 really dropped off in the past week. The warmer temperatures have really opened up the water so the eagles are spreading out. Just a few this past Friday at both Lock and Dam 14 and 15. (A couple weeks ago, when the ice was there, it was much better!)

We did find quite a few just north of the 280 bridge and south of Credit Island. Weather is expected to freeze up again so we're hoping in a couple weeks they'll be gathered up again at the open water sites.


Dug Threewitt
01-24-2010, 09:21 PM
If it's ok, I'd like to add Mississippi river eagles from St. Louis north to Louisiana MO.

Basically, same report as above, the warm weather has them spread out. 2 weeks ago in Clarksville, there were around 40-50 feeding just below Lock and Dam 24. This past weekend, there were 3. Just north of Clarksville(above the L&D) there were about 2-5 per mile on the river. Usually they were floating down river on the ice chunks. At Louisiana MO, there were several on the ice visible from the bridge to Illinois. On the Illinois side, there were about 30 sitting on the thin ice at the marina left as soon as you cross the bridge.

The light was terrible, all fog and thick clouds, so I don't have any shots, but hopefully, if there is better light in the coming weeks, this may help other photogs heading towards Clarksville.

A site to see current counts in the St. Louis area is visitalton.com. There is a link about eagle watching and they give 5 different counts for nearby areas.

When we had the extreme cold late last year/early this year, I saw several as far south in St. Louis as I-44 and I-270.

Here's to hoping it gets colder soon!

01-26-2010, 07:19 PM
Here is an interesting theory pertaining to the lack of eagles this winter season on the Mississippi. Taken from IBET(birding on the net). This makes sense to me ,because I have a friend who has fished the Mississippi for years ,and this year the Shad are just nowhere to be found . But like stated there is no proof of anything yet just that the Shad are not around .

Dale Bowman's Outdoor Blog, Stray Casts,�which appears online for�the Suntimes
featured these thoughts on the possibility of a relationship between the
decrease of gizzard shad and asian carp consuming plankton, a food source for
both species.�While this�is speculation on the part of the person who submitted
his thoughts on this and there is no scientific proof that there is a
connection, it is something to consider.

�Phil Willink, fish curator for the Field Museum, sent this set of speculation:

>Your comments the other day about missing Bald Eagles and Gizzard Shad are
interesting. I do not pay too much attention to Bald Eagles, but I have been
thinking a lot about Gizzard Shad lately. They eat plankton, which is what
Asian Carp eat. So it is assumed that Asian Carp and Gizzard Shad have similar
ecological roles. When we look to see if Asian Carp are having a negative
impact on the environment, we often look at Gizzard Shad. And when we conduct
'thought exercises' to see where Asian Carp may live (such as the Great Lakes),
we often look at Gizzard Shad.

>There is some evidence that Asian Carp are outcompeting Gizzard Shad in the
Mississippi. Fishermen are reporting drops in Gizzard Shad numbers as Asian
Carp numbers go up, but I am not sure if this is quantified or just

>If Asian Carp are increasing, and Gizzard Shad are decreasing, and Bald Eagles
eat Gizzard Shad, then this is bad news. There is no scientific proof, but it
is disturbing to think that our National Symbol is getting taken out by an
invasive fish. This is also an elegant example of how this problem is not just
restricted to aquatic systems.

>It should be noted that none of this has been proven, as far as I know. Bald
Eagles may not actually be down permanently. Bald Eagles may start eating
something else, like Asian Carp. And Gizzard Shad numbers may just be
fluctuating naturally because they are having a bad winter. Hard to tell at the
moment. But definitely something to keep an eye on.

>I also find it hard to believe that nobody else has connected these dots.
>Oh well. The madness continues.

Mark Theriot
01-27-2010, 09:41 AM
Some very interesting points.


01-30-2010, 11:59 AM
I have been told that around Lock 14 is the best area to photograph the eagles. Is this true? I am planning a visit the weekend of 2/12.

William Snyder

Mark Theriot
01-30-2010, 12:14 PM
Yes, lock and dam 14 is great! There's a park on the IL side but the recreation area on the Iowa side is perfect. Almost always a few photographers there. Check out the link below to stay up to date on Eagle counts.


Mark Theriot
01-30-2010, 05:49 PM
Just left Lock and Dam 14 - great day! There had to be 30 Eagles (including 10 or so juveniles). Very active and interactive - fishing 30 to 60 feet right from the observation deck!


Tim Theisen
02-01-2010, 01:16 PM
Hi Mark,

I am thinking about going to Lock and Dam 14 this week. I have not been there before. Were you on the IL or IA side?



Mark Theriot
02-01-2010, 08:41 PM
Hi Tim,
IA side is great - a little park by the dam and an observation walk. There's a small island not that far away where a bunch of the Eagles hang out.

Here's a neat series of shots!


Tim Theisen
02-02-2010, 10:02 AM
Hi Mark,

Thank you very much for the information. Thanks for sending the pics too! I love the interaction between the two eagles. It motivates me to go over there!


02-02-2010, 09:09 PM
When the suns out and the winds are WSW is optimum they will be flying right at you , nothing better best times are from 1:30 till dusk

Tim Theisen
02-02-2010, 09:14 PM
I appreciate the tip, Andrew!