Bald eagles out in force - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Bald eagles out in force

IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Bald eagle enthusiasts say our nation's bird is flourishing, and they're very happy about that. they also say if you want to catch a glimpse of them in Eastern Iowa, now is the best time.

When they take flight, they tend to draw crowds. "It's such an elegant bird," said Karen Disbrow, President of the Iowa City Bird Club. She says bald eagles are making a comeback, their numbers rising exponentially in some parts of the U.S.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the number of breeding pairs of eagles in Iowa doubled from 100 in the year 2000, to 200 in the year 2006.

"People just love to see huge groups like this, especially all of us who grew up thinking they might go extinct," said Disbrow, as she stood on a bridge in Iowa City on Sunday morning.

Fish are the birds' top food source during winter, as they congregate near unfrozen areas of rivers. The best bet for bird watchers is to bring your binoculars to a dam.

"As the fish roll over the dam they get kind of disoriented, so it's easier for them to get the fish."

It's one of Wilber Suiter's favorite things to do this time of year. "When the eagles are here, I'm here," he said. Armed with a powerful camera, he captures the birds in their most majestic moments.

"It's a big thrill just seeing them, and then being able to get an image of them is all the better."

One of Disbrow's tips for eagle watching - adult males and females look identical. They can be recognized with the white head and tail. Younger birds are covered with brown feathers, and don't get their adult plumage until the age of five.

Disbrow also advises to respect their space.

"If people go up to them and make them fly when they're resting, they're making them burn calories that they need to keep warm."

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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