How to Catch a Glimpse of Bald Eagles in Our Area

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Historically, Illinois has been a wintering spot for bald eagles.

And much to the delight of birdwatchers, they’ve become common in our region – especially in many Will County areas where there’s open water.

“We’re kind of at the tip of Lake Michigan here. If you’re on migration, you’re a bird, it kind of guides you into this and they kind of follow the river line too, a lot of birds do that,” said Bob Bryerton, program coordinator Forest Preserve District of Will County. “We’re on a major one. So that combined with the habitat makes it a good place for eagles to winter.”

The birds have made a strong comeback since they were put on the endangered species list in 1973. They were removed from that list nationally in 2007, and from Illinois’ list in 2009.

Where to Spot Them

Lake Renwick, McKinley Woods, and Whalon Lake are some spots in the Forest Preserve District of Will County to stop by to catch a glimpse of the majestic birds.

But one of the most popular spots where bird-watchers have flocked this year is the Rock Run Rookery Preserve in Joliet.

Don’t Get Too Close

Bryerton says if you do spot one, don’t get too close.

“If you start to get close and you see the bird maybe shift or move you’re getting too close, because you don’t want to make them fly,” said Bryerton. “If you make them fly, he’s using up energy that he doesn’t have or doesn’t really have to waste.”

Bryerton said a good way to see bald eagles without bothering them is to sit and wait near the open water, since they’ll swoop in to hunt.

The best time to see one soaring in the air or on the hunt is the middle of the day.

The forest preserve reminds bird-watchers not to disclose the location of nests publicly. Human activity near the nests can frighten eagles and cause them to abandon their nests.

Those on the lookout have through March to try and spot one, before they move on further north.

Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ reports.