Bald Eagle Watching

         Cedar Glen Eagle Roost and Preserve provides the critical habitats wintering bald eagles need to survive.   The preserve includes three miles along the Mississippi River shoreline and three islands.   Many distinct habitats are found in the area. including limestone bluffs, upland oak-hickory forests, maple-sycamore glens, cottonwood floodplains, glacial sand hills and prairies.    This diversity of habitat results in a great variety of plant and animal life.

         To protect the eagles from disturbance, the roost is closed from November 1 to March 1 but open to the public the remainder of the year for hiking, bird watching and exploring.    If you plan to visit the preserve, please call ahead to Kibbe Research Station's Station Manager, Jim Lamer at (217) 256-4519.   The site has several miles of well-kept trails, maps of which are available at Kibbe Life Science Research Station.

         January and February are peak eagle-viewing months.   While the birds can be seen throughout the area, best viewing is below the dam on either side of the river at Keokuk. Generally, wintering eagles are most actively feeding below the dam, from just after sunrise until late morning.    Fort Edwards in Warsaw is also a good viewing location.

         Why the nature conservancy originally selected this site?

         The federally endangered bald eagle, long a symbol of freedom, now has become a symbol of nature's struggle to survive.    Unfortunately, as our country's shorelines are developed, and as pesticides, pollution and man's encroachment on natural lands have increased, there are few remaining places where eagles can find the winter habitats they need. In 1974, there were only 791 breeding pairs of this magnificent bird in the lower 48 states.

         Today, the bald eagle population is slowly reviving, largely because of the ban on DDT.   Researchers estimate that there now are 2,600 breeding pairs in the lower 48 states. However, this apparent victory may be short-lived unless a second threat to eagles can be controlled — loss of habitat.   To protect the bald eagle over the long run, what is left of its habitat at places like Cedar Glen Preserve must be saved.