During the summer Colvill Park is your typical city park, with playgrounds for the kids, a swimming pool, picnic tables and a small boat marina, but in the winter Colvill becomes home to numerous bald eagles.
Minnesota has a large population of eagles, second only to Alaska in the US. During the warmer months the eagles are spread out through out the state, usually around our numerous lakes and rivers, but in the winter time they all gather around the few spots where the water stays open, plus many of the eagles that live in central Canada also migrate down into this area in search of food during the winter.
Colvill Park is one of these locations. Just up river from the park is a Excel Energy steam power plant. This plant put warm water back into the river which keeps the water around Colvill from freezing up.
The eagles need the open water to find food. Fish is one of the main food sources for bald eagles in the wild. However eagles are opportunistic feeders and will eat whatever takes the least amount of energy to obtain, which makes carrion a top choice. Many of the eagles in the area are immature birds that many non-birders often mistake for golden eagles. Bald eagles do not get the white head and tail until they are around five years. We do get golden eagles that winter in the Mississippi River Valley in southern Minnesota but they are usually further away from the river, eating squirrels and turkeys instead of fish, and would not have white feathers mixed in to their wings and bodies, except 1st year golden eagles will have a white crescent on the ends of their wings, like many of the bald eagles do.
Last year the Minnesota DNR dropped a couple of dear carcasses out on one of the peninsulas for the eagles to eat. These were road kill dear and it was much better to move them where the eagles could eat them safely then leave them near the road where they might attract eagles and lead to a collision with a vehicle.
Colvill is also the place where The Raptor Center will release recuperated eagles at during the winter. During the summer we try and release them as close to where they are rescued from as possible but during the winter they need to be released where food is available so they get released at Colvill. This pic is of me releasing the eagle that I rescued and was taken by my wife Michelle. The person that is directly behind the eagle taking a photo is John Mikes who runs the blog Weekend Shooter, check out John's blog he has some great pics from Colvill that he just posted.
There are other things at Colvill to photograph other then eagles. There are usually plenty of ducks and geese around, these include Canada geese, mallards, common mergansers, common goldeneye and occasionally something different like the redhead duck pictured above.