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Bald Eagles Spotted on DuPage River

Sightings reported near Plainfield, Shorewood.

Joel Craig took this photo of a bald eagle along the DuPage River just north of Plainfield on Saturday, Feb. 8.
Joel Craig took this photo of a bald eagle along the DuPage River just north of Plainfield on Saturday, Feb. 8.
Once on the endangered species list, the bald eagle is making a comeback. 

Bald eagle sightings have increased in Illinois as lakes and rivers freeze up north, sending eagles south in search of open water and fish, according to the Chicago Tribune

Now, they're making appearances in Will County.

Resident Joel Craig shared a photo he snapped just north of Plainfield along the DuPage River on Saturday.

And it's not the first time the majestic bird — America's national symbol — has been spotted in the area recently.

"It’s been pretty well documented this winter that bald eagles are roosting up and down the Fox River, signaling that the eagles are making quite a comeback after years on the endangered species list," Craig said. Bald eagles were officially removed from the endangered species list in 2007, but the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service still considers them a protected species.

For that reason, bird-watchers often don't like to disclose the exact location where they've spotted bald eagles, Craig said. He said one of his friends has been spotting eagles in Shorewood this winter, and he spotted another one along the DuPage north of Wedgewood Golf Course several weeks ago. 

Craig said he wasn't aware of any sightings farther north along the DuPage River.

"That is, until [Saturday], when I saw this one about 1-1/2 miles north of town," Craig said of the bird he photographed. "This is the farthest north I’ve seen or heard of any eagles along the DuPage, it’s really quite exciting!"

According to Craig, the bird in the photo is a fourth-year eagle. "You can see it still has some slight duskiness on its head," he said. "By its fifth year, the head will be completely white."

Craig said the eagle must be feeding on fish in the open water along the DuPage.

According to the state's "Save Our Eagles" website, bald eagles typically appear in Illinois in December and remain until they migrate back north in March.

Check out the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' schedule of eagle-watching events this winter.
John F. Argoudelis February 10, 2014 at 04:54 PM
I saw 2 by the DuPage near 127th and Naperville Road on February 1 around noon. Thought they were big hawks.
Vicky Polito February 10, 2014 at 08:47 PM
This is so beautiful to see! Thanks Joel Craig for the photo and The Patch for the story! We used to see them only up on the Chippewa River in WI and even that was a treat you didn't get every single trip in the canoe, etc. Green space and the natural world are so important to out lives for many, many reasons, not the least of which is how they enrich our spirits and calm our souls in such a hectic, tech-ruled world (she said as she typed a comment on the internet!).
P-Ville Lifer February 11, 2014 at 07:43 AM
We have a lot of them around my work this year; in fact, we have them year round. There is a nest located on the river in a very secluded area and every spring we're treated to seeing the baby eagles. Pictures don't do them justice; in person they are awe inspiring and very beautiful. At the end of January you can always head to Starved Rock State park during their eagle watch weekend. The colder it is the more eagles there are; they fish just below the dam since it doesn't freeze over. One year we had a very cold winter and there were over 90 of these magnificent birds.
Joel Craig February 12, 2014 at 07:45 PM
@Lifer: it used to be one would have to make the trek to places like Starved Rock or Lock and Dam 13 at Fulton, IA on the Mississippi to get a good look at bald eagles in the winter time. It's really been only in the last 2 years that we're beginning to see them on a consistent basis closer to home. There have been large numbers seen up and down the Fox; we know of a nesting pair along the DesPlaines in the vicinity of Isle a la Cache; and now this year they appear to be making their way up the DuPage. I've even read reports of sightings along the canal in downtown Joliet! Whether this is a result of the extreme winter we're seeing this year, or the ongoing conservation efforts of groups like Audubon (of which I am a member) and others, the increased numbers of eagles in our area is exciting news for nature lovers as well as those with a passing appreciation for all of creation.
P-Ville Lifer February 13, 2014 at 08:11 AM
@Joel: When my kids were small we would take them to Starved Rock every year to see the eagles and learn about them. My kids are now adults and every winter they look for them; we've noticed too that we're seeing more and more of them around here which is a good thing. And like I mentioned we have them year round at my work which isn't very far from Plainfield; it's really inspring to see them all year. We have one confirmed nesting site which is quite a large nest so we know the eagles have been coming here for awhile. All the employees respect these magnificent birds and do not divulge information of where the nest is located. I used to work in Lockport right near the 9th Street bridge; sometimes we would see some eagles there in the winter. One of the employees couldn't understand why in the mornings if I seen an eagle circling overhead I would stop and watch; I told him life's too short not to stop and notice the little things in life.

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