Bald eagle

Bald eagles call Straight Lake home along with otters, owls, badgers and more. 

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources invites the public to participate in the 36th annual Bald Eagle Watching Days on Jan. 15-16 to celebrate the species and its remarkable comeback in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin's longest-running eagle-watching event features in-person and virtual activities. Participants can catch a glimpse of eagles over the Wisconsin River at the newly expanded overlook on Water Street in Prairie du Sac. Volunteers will be available at the overlook to answer questions about bald eagles, weather permitting.

Attendees can enjoy a self-guided tour on their mobile device of prime eagle viewing areas along the upper and lower portions of the Lower Wisconsin River. Both tours start at the Sauk-Prairie Area Chamber of Commerce in Sauk City. Visit the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council website for instructions.

The public can attend presentations at the River Arts Center or watch live from the comfort of their home on the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council’s YouTube channel.

“The comeback of bald eagles in Wisconsin is an amazing story, and we’re excited to share this story with people in a special hybrid event,” said Jeb Barzen, President of the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council. “In our area, people living along the Lower Wisconsin River have worked hard to provide an environment where eagles and human neighbors thrive.”

“After 36 years of participating in the Bald Eagle Watching Days, we’re as excited as ever to promote bald eagle conservation and assist the public with viewing opportunities during winter in the Sauk Prairie area,” said Sumner Matteson, DNR avian ecologist. “In addition to the in-person events, the virtual options allow people to watch the programming throughout the year, instead of just in one weekend.”

Bald eagles tend to congregate near open water areas on the Wisconsin River, including below the Prairie du Sac dam where they can fish, offering a scenic destination to view the species in the wild. In general, eagle watching is best during the morning hours when the birds are most active fishing and are frequently seen perching in trees along the rivers.

When viewing eagles, please keep your distance as not to cause them to fly off. Remain in your vehicle when near them. Do not walk along the river, particularly at the hydropower dam since it is the eagles’ most active feeding area. Eagles, especially immature ones, need to conserve their energy to survive Wisconsin winters.

Programming includes a mix of in-person, live-streamed and pre-recorded events beginning at 8 a.m. on Jan. 15 and 16. Highlights include:

Saturday, Jan. 15

Stop by the newly expanded overlook on Water Street to view eagles and learn more about the species from volunteers available from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., weather permitting.

Visit the Tripp Heritage Museum from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. to catch pre-filmed presentations of Old Abe, Civil War Eagle and The Bald Eagle in Native American Culture. Masks required.

Attend live and pre-recorded presentations at the River Arts Center (available Saturday only); masks required:

10-11:15 a.m.: In-person Schlitz Audubon Nature Center live raptor show, followed by a question and answer session

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: “Laughing with the Animals” show hosted by educator and entertainer David Stokes, followed by a question and answer session

1:30-2:45 p.m.: Pre-recorded release of a bald eagle brought back to health by Marge Gibson, Executive Director of Raptor Education Group, Inc. Following the release, Gibson will join the participants at the River Arts Center via Zoom to talk about rehabilitation work and answer questions

3-4:15 p.m.: In-person Schlitz Audubon Nature Center live raptor show, followed by a question and answer session

Sunday, Jan. 16

Stop by the newly expanded overlook on Water Street to view eagles and learn more about the species from volunteers available from 8 a.m.-noon, weather permitting.

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