Bald Eagles are making a comeback in Wisconsin and Illinois and can frequently be seen along the river near the Confluence on the Rock River near Beloit, Wisconsin and South Beloit, Illinois. There is a nest on Blackhawk Island just a bit south of the Confluence on the Rock River. During the winter sightseers and photographers flock to the area just north of the Confluence along the Rock River in Beloit to watch and photograph the eagles. While it’s not uncommon to see eagles in Illinois and Wisconsin, it is unusual to see them so close to urban settings.

“Part of it is just the fact that there are more eagles now. Some of them are even here year-round now, and it hasn’t really been like that for 200 years,” said Rock County DNR wildlife technician Brian Buenzow. “The efforts of getting DDT and the other eggshell thinning pesticides out of the environment have allowed the eagle population to rebound.”

In the early 1900s, the nation boasted a healthy eagle presence, but by 1950 those numbers dropped dramatically, so much so that eagles teetered on the brink of extinction. Bald eagles were added to the endangered species list in 1967 and the prognosis seemed grim. Relief came in the form of a 1972 national ban on DDT, a compound used in pesticides, and subsequent cleanup efforts.

“The bans and cleanup efforts have really helped,” said Walworth County’s DNR wildlife technician, Seth Fisher. “Productivity of eagles has really increased. Getting DDT out of their food source was the key to helping them come back. There is actually a good chance that we will be reaching capacity in some spots up north so it’s likely that even more will start moving down to our area.”

Fisher also is the DNR’s regional eagle representative and he keeps close watch on established eagle nesting territories in 10 counties, including Rock and Walworth.

Learn more about Beloit Eagles on this Facebook page:

Learn more about the resurgance of eagles at this article from the Stateline News, “Photographers flock to see bald eagles on the Rock River” ; February 18, 2014

Photo Credit: Therese Oldenburg, Eagle feeding on fish on Boney Island, south of the Confluence, South Beloit, Illinois