Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn.

March 25, 2002

More bald eagles being sighted in area

Ten years ago, five years ago, even as little as three years ago, bald eagles were rarely seen in our area.

Actually, the sighting of a bald eagle was an outdoor event. If I would get a tip or a call from a reader on an eagle sighting I would rush out to that location to get a look and, if possible, a photo.

Needless to say, just getting a look was an accomplishment of being in the right place at the right time. A photo, at least a good one, was nearly impossible.

At that time, say a few years ago, only two eagles that I knew of were possibly nesting in our area. Most eagle sightings occurred in the spring during ice out.

Eagles would typically follow the ice out line on their way north. Ice out, or lakes just opening up provide eagles with and easy and ample food source of winter killed fish.

During ice out the north end of Howard Lake was a good spot to see an eagle on its way to northern nesting grounds. South winds would blow dead fish to the north end of lake giving a bald eagle a short, but easy meal.

Today, without question, bald eagles and bald eagle nesting are more common in our area. In the past week, I've gotten close to and have seen bald eagles or pairs of eagles in three separate locations. It is also very likely that these eagles will nest in or near those locations.

The photo in this week's column is of a mature bald eagle sighted near Lakes Mary and Dog in southern Wright county between Howard Lake and Winsted.

Other good locations to get a look at an eagle are the north end of Howard Lake and anywhere near Lakes Ann and Emma. In the past two years, I have had several reports of eagles nesting near Lake Emma.

Another location for good eagle watching is right on the Carver County-McLeod County line in the wetlands area between Lester Prairie and New Germany.

In these areas, the eagles seem to be getting more used to people, and will give the average outdoor enthusiast a chance to get a good look before taking off.

The photo in the column, were taken by sports editor, Aaron Schultz, with a digital camera. As I watched from the car, Aaron got to within 30 yards of the dead tree this bald eagle was sitting in.

This is the best photo of a bald eagle to date we have had the chance to publish.

If you're interested in getting a good look at an eagle bring your binoculars and head to one of the areas mentioned. Stay close to bodies of water, like lakes, rivers or large wetland areas. Look for the big white head, large dark wing spans and pay special attention to large and tall dead trees along shorelines.

Like the Canada goose, the bald eagle has become a conservation success story in our area.

Outdoor notes

­ Spring officially began on Wednesday, March 20. According to the calendar, winter is over for another year.

­ We could set two new records this month. First, this could be the coldest March ever on record. Second, this could be the first year or winter season ever where March was the coldest month.

­ Fishing on our area lakes has been pretty slow of late. The only reports I have come up with lately have small sunfish biting on Lake Mary and Howard Lake giving up some evening crappies.

­ Remember to purchase your new 2002-2003 Minnesota fishing license. Your 2001-2002 license expired Feb. 28.

­ There are many outdoor and conservation fundraising banquets set for the next month or so. Attend the one of your choice.

­ Look for more and more waterfowl to moving through the area very soon.

­ The 2002 Minnesota fishing opener is set for Saturday, May 11.

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