Upper Wisconsin Eagle Watch Tour
Introduction: Eagles wintering along the Lower Wisconsin Riverway form the largest Bald Eagle winter population that resides entirely within Wisconsin. Although the Lower Wisconsin Riverway extends from the dam at Prairie du Sac to the junction of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers, eagles winter along the Lower Wisconsin River primarily from Prairie du Sac to Lone Rock, a distance of 32 river miles, and they also move extensively up and down this corridor. To improve your chances of seeing eagles, whether eagles are located mostly up or down river, we have split the self-guided tour into an Upper Wisconsin River Wintering Eagle Watch Tour and a Lower Wisconsin River Wintering Eagle Watch Tour.” The tour is broken into two parts because, due to food availability, eagles sometimes concentrate mostly up-river and sometimes concentrate mostly down river. Generally, eagles gather along the Lower Wisconsin River and adjoining agricultural lands in winter. This convocation of eagles is possible because the dam at Prairie du Sac keeps a significant portion of the Wisconsin River from freezing. Of equal importance, traditional communal roosts occur in bluffs located adjacent to the river and provide a safe place where eagles sleep at night. Undeveloped river shoreline allows for undisturbed feeding, and agricultural lands provide open space where carrion can be found. All four of these habitat elements combined allow eagles to concentrate along the Lower Wisconsin from Lone Rock to Prairie du Sac during winter. When there is abundant ice on the river and snow in the uplands, eagles concentrate in the Sauk Prairie area. When the river is more ice-free or snow cover is limited, eagles spend more time along the 32-mile stretch of river rather than concentrating in any one place. Where these birds tend to concentrate in any given wintry week helps you decide which tour to take. Please see the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FerryBluffEagleCouncil for recommendations on which tour to take based on where the most eagles are located at any given time during the winter. Suggested driving routes from one tour stop to the next are shown, but feel free to visit tour stops in any order. Both tour sections can be started from the Sauk Prairie Area Chamber of Commerce office. See the Chamber of Commerce tour stop for directions on how to get there. Typically, when ice is abundant on the river or snow is deep in agricultural areas, eagles can be found primarily in the up-river stretch from the Prairie du Sac Dam to the river area near Mazomanie. During warmer weather, when little ice is found on the river nor snow in agricultural areas, few eagles use the upper stretch of river and concentrate along the river from Mazomanie to Lone Rock. Pay attention to the conditions around you to estimate where you should go to view the most eagles. If the river is full of ice, visit the up-river sections. If the river is open, visit the down-river sections. At any time, enjoy your viewing of eagles and appreciate just how dynamic eagle distribution can be in winter! Note that you are outside in winter so please dress accordingly. Tour Part 1: Welcome to the Upper Wisconsin River (Sauk Prairie Area) Wintering Eagle Watch Tour: https://theclio.com/tour/1721 If the river is full of ice, visit the up-river sections, which remain open because of the dam at Prairie du Sac (Tour Part 1). If the river is open, visit the down-river sections (Tour Part 2 - https://theclio.com/tour/2391). At any time, enjoy your viewing of eagles and appreciate just how dynamic eagle distribution can be in winter! Note that you are outside in winter so please dress accordingly.