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Bald Eagle Days in Keokuk Saturday & Sunday

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The pool of water below Lock and Dam 19 at Keokuk is the northern most point on the Mississippi River that does not freeze, which makes it a prime location for bald eagles to feed in the winter. Organizers of Keokuk's 32nd annual Bald Eagle Appreciation Days are counting on that this weekend.

Tom Buckley, Lee County Conservation Director, said Mother Nature is also helping out as the anticipated dip in temperature this weekend should bring out the eagles as well. He said it's fortunate that the event was not held last weekend.

"I went and did a little bit of checking along the river about [10 days ago], and I literally saw two birds between Fort Madison and the riverfront in Keokuk," said Buckley.

"Just in the last couple days, both myself and [Keokuk Tourism Director] Kirk Brandenberger went down [to the river] and checked. Kirk is seeing 10-12 birds down there now and along the river. Even in a couple places where I don't normally see them, in a couple of our parks, I have seen 20-25 of them."

Buckley said it's believed that the best time to watch the eagles along the riverfront are in the early morning or the late afternoon. But he's quick to admit that's not always the case, as last year, he watched around 200 eagles circling the dam at about 10:00 a.m.

"In working now, going on 40 years with wildlife, I've learned that as soon as I think I know how to predict something that a wild animal is going to do, they do the complete opposite," said Buckley.

Just in case the bald eagles head to the trees to nest, or the temperatures dip too low, there are indoor events throughout Saturday and Sunday in the River City Mall. They include a Native American cultural area, the Iowa State University Insect Zoo, and performances by the World Bird Sanctuary of St. Louis.

There will also be educational seminars on Saturday.

  • 11:00 a.m. - An Ecological History of Fire in the Midwest - Sean Jenkins - WIU
  • 1:00 p.m. - The Other Pollinators - Dr. Donald Lewis - Iowa State
  • 3:00 p.m. - Morels and More - Glen Schwartz - Prairie States Mushroom Club