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  Thursday January 29th, 2015    

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Upper Miss Refuge Bald Eagle Survey (04/12/2006)
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service coordinated a Refuge-wide bald eagle survey on March 22, 2006. Volunteers, Wisconsin DNR and Refuge staff counted 2,773 migrating and nesting bald eagles along a 260 mile stretch of the river, following pre-determined boat and car routes. Four new bald eagle nests in Pools 7 and 8 were also discovered; 366 bald eagles were counted in Pool 7 and 252 in Pool 8.

Observers worked both sides of the river, recording the location and time of day for each sighting so all the collected data could be cross-referenced to eliminate any "double-counting". Results from Pools 4 and 7 were also compared to the Service's aerial survey conducted the same day. The ground surveys recorded 30 to 50 percent more bald eagles than the aerial surveys. This may be because they flew 300 feet above the water verses 150 feet, the normal elevation flown during fall aerial waterfowl surveys.

This is the first year the entire Refuge has been surveyed at one time. The survey gives biologists a "snap shot" of bald eagle numbers on the Refuge during peak spring migration. Biologists plan to repeat the survey for the next two to three years to establish a baseline for comparison in the future.

Participants had a chance to watch not only bald eagles, but ducks, geese, swans, mergansers, and pelicans. Molly Miller was rewarded for volunteering with an unexpected sight. She was looking into an eagle nest with binoculars when she saw something puzzling. "It was brown and kind of looked like a cat. That makes no sense at all!," she told the others as she bobbed up and down in the boat trying to get a good look. Then she saw a big gray, round face with ears - a great horned owl. "It made my whole day. Volunteering gives me a chance to be on the river and learn about all the wonderful resources we enjoy here, plus I get to do something useful and important."

Volunteer opportunities occur throughout the year. Watch for news releases announcing upcoming events or call to be added to our mailing list. For additional information, please contact the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge at (608) 783-8405.

The Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge is the most visited refuge in the United States. The refuge extends 261 miles along the Upper Mississippi River from Wabasha, Minn. to Rock Island, Ill., protecting and preserving habitat for migratory birds, fish, and a variety of other wildlife. This 240,000 acre refuge was established in 1924. 


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