Rock Falls Tourism would like to thank all our friends and colleagues for their valued support throughout what has been an amazing 2016 and we would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and an amazing 2017! Rock Falls Tourism wishes you a holiday of spending time with loved ones and creating memories that will last a lifetime. We will be doing the same and will be back fully charged, January 9th 2017 working hard to promote Rock Falls, IL and our beautiful communities in addition to answering all of your travel needs.
While we're away from the tourism office, I encourage anyone traveling to Rock Falls or by Rock Falls, IL to take a detour and drive to the Rock River (click on icon for map). The Bald Eagles are back and after speaking with Scott Schaeffer, Wildlife Biologist for Illinois Department of Natural Resources (based on local observations), we have an unusually high number of eagles this early in the year.
Eagle Watching in Rock Falls, IL
When viewing our majestic national symbol please be aware of your surroundings. These once endangered birds have been successful enough at raising eaglets to be removed from the Endangered Species list. That being said, Bald Eagles remain protected by the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. They are also, as a species, sensitive to human activity. According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, during the winter, bald eagles are under pressure to consume enough food and expend as little energy as possible in order to maintain body heat. If fishermen, bird watchers, or boaters get too close to the eagles, the birds will waste valuable energy flying away. It exposes them to undue stress and could cause abandonment of a site.
The last thing any Bald Eagle lover would want, is to unintentionally cause a nest to fail, produce fewer young, prevent the eagles from feeding or force an eagle to abandon their site. Fortunately, there are precautions that you can take to limit the amount of stress you cause the birds that you are viewing.
Bald Eagle Monitoring Etiquette
Disturbance is defined as any activity that changes an eagle’s behavior. Example-if an eagle stops preening to study YOU then YOU have disturbed the eagle. Disturbances fall on a spectrum from minor (example above) to major (flushing from nest). The impact of disturbance on nest success can also vary from minor to major, up to causing a nest to fail, and frequently disturbance can cause a cumulative effect, meaning that frequent minor disruptions can be as problematic as infrequent major disturbances.
How can you tell if you’re bothering an Eagle?
If an eagle does not stop to check you out while you are approaching him, then you’re not bothering him. If he does stop what he’s doing and notices you, but resumes his activity after giving you a once over, you are also probably not bothering him and are safe to continue observing him. If, however, the bird does not resume his task or become more agitated, you should back away until the eagle become comfortable again. An eagle that is alarmed by your presence will progress from simply watching you to sitting up in an alert posture and may begin vocalizing. As the bird’s agitation increases, it might start shifting in the nest/on its perch, raising its wings, leaning forward and preparing to fly and otherwise look anxious until it finally flushes from the nest/perch.
Eagle Comfort Level
As humans we all have an imaginary bubble that is the comfortable distance that we remain from others. Eagles are the same. What is the Eagle’s bubble? Anywhere from 100 feet to 1000 feet. Every eagle is different which is why you, as a lover of nature and our national symbol must be observant of his behavior. Nest stage seems to affect how eagles respond to human activity. The United State Fish & Wildlife Service recommends that active nest/feeding sites not be approached beyond a distance of 330 feet. Be observant. Eagles seem to have a lower threshold for disturbance during courtship, pair formation and nest building. Would you like strangers watching you intently while you did the same? Not likely. If you make the eagles uncomfortable, they may give up their site and move elsewhere.
Rock Falls, IL is called Urban Crossroads: Where City Life & Nature Meet for a reason. We are blessed to have eagles feed and nest on the Rock River in very observable areas. One is a major highway. There are many vantage points that can be utilized that will not disturb the eagles. Here are a few:
- Lower Dam Park look across the river on the island
- Bowman Park look across the river on the island
- Seward Riverside Park look up!
- Upper Dam Area (near the walkway)
- Sinnissippi Dam Walkway look toward Seward Park or above you-they may be circling
- 1st Avenue Bridge/IL Route 40
Now grab your binoculars, camera or cell phone (they take quite good pictures these days!), warm clothing and head out to see Eagles in Rock Falls, IL. National pride along with the American Bald Eagle soar at the Rock River in Rock Falls, IL. Be safe, Be Observant and Happy Eagles Watching!!!!
As you can see, 2017 promises to bring many more wonderful experiences in the Rock Falls area and we look forward to sharing them with you in the months to come. Thank you all again, for supporting our efforts over the years, we are privileged to be able to share this special community with others. Our local residents (paws, claws and people) are what sets Rock Falls apart and what makes visitors want to come back.
Rock Falls Tourism