Special thanks to Peter Eagle-Eye Nye for providing his time and expertise in responding to your questions!
From: Rolling Meadows High School
Rolling Meadows, Illinois
Hello, my name is Amanda and I am a junior at Rolling Meadows High
A: Hello Amanda,
It has been reported that as many as five thousand Bald Eagles winter on the river between Cairo, Illinois and St. Paul, Minnesota, tending to concentrate near several large dams. I find that figure a bit high. But there is no doubt that the Mississippi River, in particular, with extensive open water (due to hydro-electric dams) and fish they provide, is a major attraction to wintering Bald Eagles. And, of course, you've got that famous "Quad Cities" area along the River, with annual winter concentrations of eagles.
It talks about eagle viewing along the Illinois River.
Finally, you might check out the Illinois Conservation Department web
site to search for information they surely have on Bald Eagles in
It would be interesting to ask them or others in the know about
eagles in your state, if this winters’ count is way down compared to
past years, due to the mild weather. Our count is down because of the mild winter.
From: McKinney, Texas
Q: Your maps are focused on the Northeastern Part of the United States. Today, at the Heard Natural History Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary in McKinney Texas, we saw a Bald Eagle flying high, over our Sycamore Trail. Bald Eagles have been sighted there before. Why does the map only show that one part of the United States?
A: The maps focus on the Northeast United
States because that is where our eagle research has focused, and so
you are seeing only a small
piece of eagle behavior from one part of our country. Eagles,
both wintering and breeding eagles, are found in every state except
Hawaii. Many people have studied eagle movements over the years in
places around the country, but now, you are seeing just the Northeast
United States research. You certainly do have eagles in Texas.
I suggest you check with your Texas
Parks and Wildlife folks for more
From: Pine Ridge Christian School
Q: Why do we have 20-30 Bald Eagles on Lake Macatawa in Holland, Michigan? This has not happened before.
have to guess here, based on just the little bit of information you
gave me. I assume you mean they are
here now in the winter, not as
breeding birds (or you would have noticed them many times before
each summer). I wonder if your lake is open water (or partially so)
if it is frozen ?? I can tell you why the eagles are there, almost
without question; because they are finding food there! This could
either be from carrion (dead animal carcasses such as deer), or perhaps
a fish-kill, or a particularly good concentration of waterfowl.
Park Early Childhood Center
Q: What color band is U21?
is "sky blue", as I
like to call it. Every New York State eagle gets the same color blue
band. It tells
us immediately that if an eagle is spotted somewhere with a blue
band, it is one of our New York birds. All color banding of eagles
(and other birds) is coordinated by a federal agency (the United
States Dept of the Interior) and housed in Maryland at a place
called the Bird Banding Laboratory. All bird bands are issued
from here and reported back here when used. Care is taken to try
to assign unique colors and/or codes to different researchers
at different locations. This helps to eliminate confusion when
a color-banded bird is seen by someone.
Q: Please explain the significance of bands and colors.
explanation above. If only the color of the band is seen, it tells
us it is from New York (if it's
the actual alphanumeric (the letter-number code) is read, we can
tell exactly where the eagle was banded or born and when (how old
Q: What does the female eagle do when she gets older? I heard that she plucks all of her feathers out and she makes her beak fall off, then grows another one and new feathers, and becomes more beautiful than she was before. Could you please let me know about this. Thank You, Donna
I'd like to meet the person who told you this ! That is definitely
not true. What is true, that
you might be confusing a bit, is that each year all eagles, regardless
of their age or sex, molt (lose) and replace their feathers, so
they do indeed get new, strong, perfect ones, and as they do,
I'm sure they do, look better! This has nothing to do with age.
Q: I recently stumbled across some information that stated eagles fly into storms, use the winds of the storm to gain altitude, and that they rise way above the storm. I haven't been able to find any scientific resource to support that and wanted to know if you know anything about this statement or whether you could direct me to a reliable source that will confirm it or deny it.
A: Lazar, I have never heard of this behavior exactly as you describe it. This sounds like stretching or misinterpreting what eagles do, which might have confused some folks. Eagles definitely do use the winds (and some quite strong), as well as "updrafts" coming off hills and mountains. This helps them to gain altitude and set them up for a long, soaring flight to another location, especially when they migrate great distances north or south. This behavior saves considerable energy, and the eagles hardly have to flap their wings; pretty smart I say, using the winds to their advantage.