A mid-winter survey of Iowa’s bald eagle population finds warmer weather is having no impact on eagle numbers, but there are far fewer of the majestic birds at a western Iowa park than usual. Greg Wagner, spokesman for the Nebraska Game and Parks Division, says the DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge, which straddles the Missouri River, is seeing precious few of the big birds.
Wagner says, “There’s over 50 bald eagles on the refuge property, but generally, we’ll have over one-thousand bald eagles that hang out with us over the winter period.” Since the eagles enjoy feeding on fresh fish, they usually congregate near open water which is typically scare during the winter.
The milder weather, Wagner says, is letting the eagles fan out. “Obviously ground cover was exposed,” he says. “There were more open water areas so this is the first major concentration up at Desoto that we’ve had.” Even with reduced numbers, Wagner says the bald eagles aren’t shy. They can be easily viewed from several areas in the refuge.
He says, “Take that tour road by the river to see the eagles in the tall perch trees trying to eat fish, in the backwater pools and also in the river. The DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge is located along Highway 30 between the towns of Blair, Nebraska, and Missouri Valley, Iowa. Due to last summer’s flooding, the Steamboat Bertrand Museum is closed and several trails and roads are closed, too.